ENGL 3300: Women in Literature: Medieval and Early Modern English Women Writers

The plays of Shakespeare could not have been written by a woman, Virginia Woolf famously opined, because medieval and early modern women were not allowed the economic and educational advantages of men.  In this class we will read the works of many of those English women, some highly educated and some less so, who did do what Shakespeare's fictional sister Judith was not allowed: put pen to parchment and write.  We will explore the conditions within which womens' writing could thrive, the placement of women's writing with the dominant literary tradition, and the development (if any) of a distinct female literary culture.  Evaluation will include formal essays, informal written responses, and two examinations.
Required Texts (available at the University of Georgia Bookstore)

  • Marie de France. The Lays of Marie de France (Penguin, ed. Burgess and Busby)
  • Marie de France, The Life of Saint Audrey: A Text by Marie de France (McFarland, ed. McCash and Barban)
  • Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe (Norton, ed. Staley)
  • Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love and The Motherhood of God, an Excerpt (Brewer, ed. Beer)
  • Wynn-Davies, Marion, ed.  Women Poets of the Renaissance  (Routledge)
  • Anne Askew, The Examination of Anne Askew, ed. Bailin (Oxford)
  • additional material will be made available on the course website

Semesters taught: