Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

B1  5/30-7/07 MTWTH  10:15-12:00 PM  CAC  04572  LI, M.  HH-A6


Women Writing Modernity

 “To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world—and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are… To be modern is to be part of a universe in which, as Marx said, ‘all that is solid melts into air.’” – Marshall Berman

We will interrogate this marvelous notion of modernity—and ask to what extent it holds true for women. We will pursue this question through reading fiction by women that grapples with both the possibilities and limitations of modernity in the 20th century. Contrary to the traditional conceptualization of modernism and modernity as masculine and Western, our readings will uncover a global network of women creating literary art to engage these double-edged times.

We will be reading short stories and novels by Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, Eileen Chang, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Rhys, Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy, and Jamaica Kincaid. We’ll also read some feminist and economic theory to understand how modernity is gendered, and how the effects of modernity vary for women across societies and cultures and at different positions in the emerging global system of capitalism. A couple of relevant films may be added.

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Statue of "Willie the Silent"