With a focus on women authors in the United States—considering, among others, Fanny Fern, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Nella Larsen, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison, Alison Bechdel—we will examine novels as productions of women’s labor. Studying a history of artistic achievements, we will also read women’s literary work as an index of artistic, political, and social change. Writing during periods of intense conflict, these authors turned to and reshaped the novel, and, in different and surprising ways, profess their commitment to literary work in a society where writers often struggle. Issues will include the role of unpaid domestic labor in women’s lives, urbanization and social conflict, autonomy and self-expression, and authorship among other professions like commerce, business or the law.