The Woman Question in Anglo-American Literature

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSOL2EN3484

Semester and Year Offered: WS2017

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Usha Mudiganti

Email of course coordinator: usha[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

This course will attempt to trace the changes in the perceptions of womanhood in the Anglo-American nations during the late- nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The changes in Victorian society owing to new developments in science and technology included a re-examining of the cultural norms of that society. These changes sparked discussions and debates about the role of women in the family and in society. This was called the Woman Question by Victorians. The Woman Question encompassed discussions on the role of women in families, social duties, and legal rights. These issues were taken up in literary texts of the period, both in Britain and America.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Identify key theorists and terms in Women’s Studies
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of key texts and topics related to Gender Studies
  3. Use written and oral skills to apply an academic argument
  4. Demonstrate an awareness of critical skills required to read a range of texts

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. Introduction: This module will introduce the focal areas of this course and will introduce the term ‘The Woman Question’.
  2. Looking at Women: In this module we will focus on two novels to see the literary gaze towards women in Britain and in North America.
  3. Women in Society: In this module, we will be looking at women’s involvement in reforms in women’s education, health and legal rights.
  4. Self and Society: In this final module we will focus on one novel to try to understand the fraught relationship between selfhood and social roles.

Assessment Details with weights:



Date/period in which Assessment will take place







Take Home Assignment

End of March




Early April



Term paper

End of April



Class Participation

Throughout the semester



Reading List:

  1. Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre.
  2. James, Henry. Daisy Miller.
  3. Chopin, Kate. The Awakening.
  4. Excerpts from M V Hughes’s A London Girl of the 1880s
  5. Excerpts from Flora Thompson’s Lark Rise to Candleford
  6. Excerpts from John Stuart Mill’s On the Subjection of Women
  7. Excerpts from Margaret Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century Woman
  8. Frances Cobbe’s Rejoinder to Mrs Stowe
  9. Frances Power Cobbe’s “Criminals, idiots, women and minors” (1869)
  10. Report of the Ladies Emancipatory Society
  11. “Science and the Woman’s Question” by Lydia Pimenoff (1893)
  12. “The Woman Question” by Francis Parkman (1879)
  13. “The Woman Question Again” by Francis Parkman (1880)