Women Writing in India

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSOL2EN3054

Semester and Year Offered: WS2012, WS2014, WS2016, MS2017

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Usha Mudiganti

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

This course will attempt to study the literary work of women writers in India while also discussing their struggles in overcoming barriers of gender, caste, class and culture. It foregrounds literary expression of women’s hopes, joys, desires and struggles while attempting to read these literary expressions in the larger context of the women’s movement in India. Beginning with the Therigatha of the Buddhist nuns, the course traces the history of women’s writing in India. The course will look into women’s expression of their spiritual journeys and the ways in which these journeys formed their notions of self and womanhood. Women’s experiences of negotiating the changes in the domestic sphere during the colonial times and the changing ideals of Indian womanhood during the freedom movement will be understood through the autobiographies of women. Women’s early expressions of anger against the patriarchal structure, experiences of stepping into the world of work, struggles to overcome structural barriers of caste and class will also be studied. Writing by women will also be read as a cathartic experience.

Course Outcomes:

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

  1. Develop reflective thinking regarding self and society
  2. Develop moral and ethical awareness regarding the lives of and writing by women
  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
  5. Apply research skills to source materials for class presentations and assessment tasks

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. Introduction: This module will introduce Women studies, the idea of writing as an act, and the locations of women writers.
  2. Early Expressions: This module will focus on the earliest literary expressions by women in the Indian subcontinent. It will look into the ways in which writing was expressed in and contributed to their spiritual journeys.
  3. Writing for Reform: In this module, we will be looking at ways in which writing by women contributed to the changes in Indian society during the late-19th and early 20th centuries when there were debates on social issues in the regional press.
  4. Relocating: In this module we will try to understand women’s involvement in struggles of caste and attempted to reinterpret their spaces in this struggle.
  5. Expressing the self: This final module will focus on texts which were published in the second half of the 20th century and will attempt to understand women’s reflections on self and subjectivity.

Assessment Details with weights:



Date/period in which Assessment will take place







Take Home Assignment

Last week in August



Team Presentation

Through the semester, during class



End Term

Early December



Class Participation

Through the semester, during class



Reading List:

  • Tharu, Susie and K. Lalita. “Introduction”. Women Writing in India.
  • Niranjana, Anupama. “A Day with Charulata”.
  • Muddupalani. Verses from Radhika Santwanam. Section 1 Verse: 71, Section 2 Verse: 101 and 102
  • Antal. Verses 13.7 to 13.10
  • Mirabai. “I am pale with longing for my Beloved”, “The Bhil Woman tasted them…”
  • Sankavva, Sule. “In my Harlot’s Trade”
  • Akkamahadevi. “I love the Handsome One…”, “Brother, you’ve come…”
  • Janabai. “Caste off all shame”, “Jani sweeps the floor”
  • Therigatha: Mutta. “So free am I”, Ubbiri. “O Ubbiri, wails in the woods”. Sumangalamata. “A woman…”
  • Sangam. Venmanipputi Kuruntokai 299, Kavar Pentu Purananuru 86
  • Shinde, Tarabai. Excerpt from Stri-Purush Tulna
  • Pandita Ramabai. Excerpt from The High-Caste Hindu Woman
  • Kanitkar, Kashibai. “My Education”
  • Hossain, Sakhawat Rokeya. Sultana’s Dream
  • Tilak, Lakshmibai. Part II Chapters 1 and 2 of Smriti Chitre
  • Sen, Haimabati. Excerpt from Because I am a Woman
  • Sorabji, Cornelia. Letter to The Pioneer Mail and The Indian Weekly
  • Dasi, Binodini, Excerpt from her Autobiography
  • Kanuparti, Varalakshmamma, “The Promise”
  • Kamble, Baby, Chapter 5 of The Prisons We Broke
  • Karve, Iravati. “Kunti” from Yuganta
  • Devi, Mahashweta. ‘Kunti and the Nishadin’
  • Pritam, Amrita. ‘Waris Shah’
  • Antarjanam, Lalitambika. ‘Revenge Herself’
  • Desai, Anita. Fire on the Mountain
  • Das, Kamala. “Relationship”