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Washington State University
Donna M. Campbell American Literature

English/WMST 309 Women Writers

English/WGSS 309

Spring 2024

Women Writers (Go to

Dr. Donna Campbell
357 Avery Hall (class is virtual; email me for Zoom info or drop into office hours)

Note: Updates will be made in Canvas. This is an overall rather than exact syllabus.

Required Texts

  • Wharton, Edith. Summer and Ethan Frome. Modern Library, 2001. ISBN 0375757287
  • Ward, Great Short Stories by American Women Writers, Dover1996978-0486287768
  • Alcott, Louisa May, Behind a MaskHarper Perennial1997, 20049780688151324
  • Mailhot, Terese, Heart Berries
  • Atwood, Alias Grace, Anchor1997978-0385490443
  • Bechdel, Fun Home, Mariner Books20069780618871711
  • Larsen, PassingPenguin19970142437271

All readings on feminist theory are available in the course space; you don’t need to buy an extra book.

Course Overview

Welcome to English/WGSS 309, a course that asks you to become increasingly aware of the ways in which women’s writing has been produced and consumed within many different situations, or contexts, in their lives. In this course, you will earn three semester credit hours and develop solid analytical reading, writing, and revising skills by completing the assigned readings, the short response papers, the research proposal and research paper, and the discussion posts.  Please start by reading this syllabus carefully to familiarize yourself with the nature of the course and what we intend for it, and you, to accomplish.

This course provides upper-division students with practice in critical reading, analysis, and all stages of the writing process. Our basic assumption is that you already have some strong academic reading and writing skills and now want to learn more about textual communication. Thus, you’ll write a variety of both informal and formal documents, each of which is designed to enhance your practical and theoretical understanding of the relationship of women’s writing to the rest of the world. We’ll read from a variety of conventional genres, including critical theory, fiction, poetry, and memoir, focusing on critical analysis of the various kinds of writings done by women, of diverse definitions of the work of feminisms, and of the ways in which writers can work to end historical silence and invisibility.

Course Goals

This course is designed to help you develop the following:

  • an appreciation for diverse styles and forms used by women writers in various genres.
  • an understanding of the uses of writing in forming community for women.
  • an awareness of the social and historical forces that have affected women’s lives and their writing during various eras.
  • critical self-reflection and self-assessment skills through writing by engaging in the writing process, including prewriting, drafting, and revising.
  • an increasing awareness of the importance of writing as a social action.
  • awareness of the importance of working toward a critical consciousness that allows for the dialectical process of rethinking and redefining notions and assumptions through reading and writing.

Course Work

This course is designed to enable you to meet the course goals listed above through a combination of reading assignments, writing assignments (papers), and discussion postings.

As in a face-to-face classroom, you’ll need to set aside time in your weekly schedule to complete the assigned readings, post to the discussion board, and write your papers. Because the information in this course is cumulative and discussion is an integral and valued part of it, this is not a self-paced class in which you can complete the assignments for several units all at once. The weekly deadlines are listed in the Course Schedule.

Allow plenty of time for posting your replies to the discussion board and uploading your papers to the drop box. If you wait until the last minute, a computer failure or internet outage could delay the transmission of your assignment, which would then be considered late.

Coursework is due at 11:55PM Pacific Standard Time (PST) on the date indicated.

Reading Assignments

The reading assignments for this course are listed under Modules. They have been divided into six thematic units, with 1-3 lessons per unit. As you’ll see by clicking on the Modules link, each lesson includes reading assignments from the textbooks that you’ve purchased for the course as well as a “Context and Questions” page, which is the written lecture for the lesson. Suggested questions for the discussion board, possible topics for response papers, and brief lectures will be posted on the “Context and Questions” pages.  The “Context and Questions” page link on the Lessons pages will be made available at the beginning of each unit.

For lessons with a number of readings, you will see “Read at least two of the following articles” listed at the top of the page. Although it’s desirable to read them all, you may elect to read only two for these selected lessons.

In addition, several lessons have “For Further Study” links at the bottom of the page, and the “Contexts and Questions” pages will have embedded links as well. All the required course materials can be found in your books or in the course space, but these optional links have information that may be helpful or interesting to you.

Writing Assignments

Over the course of this semester, you’ll write the following:

  • 11 discussion posts and additional responses (the self-introduction will receive full credit; the other 10 will be graded based on the discussion post rubric found under Modules);
  • three response papers;
  • one proposal for the research paper;
  • and one research paper.
Course Schedule
Week Unit / Reading Discussions Assignments
 Week 1
Jan. 8 – Jan. 12

Student Hours: Just email or text me and I’ll open a Zoom room). Email me at

  • Initial discussion post and two responses are due Friday, January 12, 11:55 p.m.
Week 2
Jan. 15 – Jan. 19
Unit 1: Women and Writing

  • Lesson 1: Women on Writing
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday,  11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday,  11:55 p.m.
Week 3
Jan. 22 – Jan. 26
  • Lesson 2: Writing Women’s Lives: Fiction, Memoir, and Essay
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday,  11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday,  11:55 p.m.
Week 4
Jan. 29- Feb. 2
  • Lesson 3: Feminist Theories
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday, Jan. 31,  11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday, Feb. 2, 11:55 p.m.
  • Response Paper 1: Sunday, Feb. 4,  11:55 p.m.
Week 5
Feb. 5 – Feb. 9
Unit 2: Nineteenth-Century Debates: Domesticity and the World of Work

  • Lesson 4: Alcott, Behind a Mask
  • Critical Readings
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday,  Feb. 7, 11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday,  Feb. 9, 11:55 p.m.
Week 6
Feb. 12 – Feb. 16
  • Lesson 5: 19th-Century Poetry and Short Stories
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday,  Feb. 14, 11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday,  Feb. 16, 11:55 p.m.
  • Response Paper 2: Sunday,  Feb. 18, 11:55 p.m.
Week 7
Feb. 19 – Feb. 23
Unit 3: Study of an Author: Edith Wharton

  • Lesson 6: Wharton, Summer and Ethan Frome
  • Critical Readings
Week 8
Feb. 26 – Mar. 1
Unit 3: Study of an Author: Edith Wharton (cont.)
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday,  Feb. 28, 11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday,  Mar. 1, 11:55 p.m.
  • Response Paper 3: Sunday, Mar. 3, 11:55 p.m.
Week 9
Mar. 4 – Mar. 8
Unit 4: Women Writers of Color

  • Lesson 7: Larsen, Passing
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday, Oct. 18, 11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday, Oct. 20, 11:55 p.m.
Week 10

Mar. 11- Mar. 15

Spring Break No assignments due
Week 11
Mar. 18 – Mar. 22
  • Lesson 8: Women Writers of Color: Short Stories
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday, Mar. 20, 11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday, Mar. 22, 11:55 p.m.
  • Response Paper 4: Sunday, Mar. 24, 11:55 p.m.
Week 11
Mar. 25 – Mar. 29
Unit 5: The Struggle for Selfhood

  • Lesson 9:
  • Critical Readings
Week 12
Apr. 1- Apr. 5
Unit 5: The Struggle for Selfhood (cont.)
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday, Apr. 3, 11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday, Apr. 5, 11:55 p.m.
  • Research Paper TopicSunday, Apr. 7,  11:55 p.m.
  • Response Paper: Sunday, Apr. 7, 11:55 p.m.
Week 13
Apr. 8-Apr. 12
Unit 6: Contemporary Lives, Contemporary Memoirs/Local, Global, and Indigenous Consciousness

  • Lesson 10: Contemporary Lives, Contemporary Memoirs / Local, Global, and Indigenous  Consciousness
  • Bechdel, Fun Home
  • Mailhot, Heart Berries
Week 14
Apr. 15 – Apr. 19
Unit 6: Contemporary Lives, Contemporary Memoirs/Local, Global, and Indigenous Consciousness (cont.)
  • Original Discussion Post: Wednesday,  Apr. 17, 11:55 p.m.
  • Two Responses to Others’ Posts: Friday,  Apr. 19, 11:55 p.m.
  • Response Paper 6: Sunday, Apr. 21, 11:55 p.m.
Week 15
Apr. 22-Apr. 26
Dead Week Optional Individual Conferences
Week 16
Apr. 29- May 3
Finals Week
  • Research Paper: Wednesday, May 1, 11:55 p.m.