Course Descriptions

ENG 2234

Literature by Women

Jennifer McFarlane-Harris

MWF 1:00-2:20 p.m.

This course features adaptation: literary texts paired with adaptations or reimaginings of those texts. We will begin with select poems and essays that ask big questions about women artists (Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, Maya Angelou, Virginia Woolf, Alice Walker, Rebecca Solnit, Linda Nochlin), and then study forms of narration through Kate Chopin’s short stories and Nella Larsen’s novel Passing (1929)—a masterpiece of fiction from the Harlem Renaissance—and Rebecca Hall’s recent lyrical film adaptation of Passing (2021; shot in black-and-white, of course). Next we will turn to one of the most beloved—and most adapted—American novels: Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1868/69). In addition to watching film adaptations (Greta Gerwig!, 2019) and studying pieces of Mark Adamo’s opera Little Women (1998), we will read the Pulitzer Prize winning March by Geraldine Brooks (2005; this piece of historical fiction uses the absent father from Part I of Little Women to take us on a poignant journey through the American Civil War). Finally, we will read Bethany C. Morrow’s So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix (2021; this coming-of-age YA novel tells the story of four Black sisters during the Civil War) and end the course with a discussion of pop culture, feminism, fandom, and copyright. Delving into the nuances of genre and historical contexts, we will also pay careful attention to the functions of social and political categories (e.g., gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic class, citizenship, religion, etc.) in literature by women.

Writing on the window of an English classroom

How to Read a Poem

English Professor Susan Van Zanten gives you a quick guide on how to get the most out of reading poetry.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Jane Austen
Pride & Prejudice