Problems in Cultural Interpretation

In this class, we will read great classic novels by Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, Sarah Orne Jewett, Gloria Naylor, and some delicious stories by Toni Cade Bambara. We will interpret these texts, themselves fun to read, in the light of some powerful feminist literary analyses written about them in the last two decades of the twentieth century—analyses which together constitute a decisive contribution to feminist thinking. This major body of cultural theory retains its vital significance, although it is rarely read today and has largely slipped from sight of the younger generation. But it has not been superseded—and rarely equaled subsequently—and its insights are as important today for thinking about society and culture as when it was first written. This class takes us into a key episode in recent cultural history as well as developing the higher skills in reading fiction and giving us a fresh slant on gender politics.