ENMMLF-Modern Literary Feminisms: Theories/Praxis/Texts

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Nicola Abram

Email: n.l.abram@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module explores modern feminist thinking and writing, while also acknowledging the critical fissures inherent in the contested term ‘feminism’. It will introduce students to aspects of feminist theory and praxis through reference to a range of texts – including fiction, non-fiction, film, drama, blogs and websites – to problematize the implicit hierarchies contained in different kinds of knowledge. The module will encourage students to reflect on their own embodied knowledge and to connect their reading with the (gendered) world around them.


This module aims to introduce students to the dynamic field of literary feminism, from the late twentieth century to the present day. It foregrounds the multiplicity of the term ‘feminism’, through attention to intersecting issues of race, class, and sexuality.  It aims to juxtapose different kinds of text, questioning the often gendered value judgements inherent in the category of ‘literature’ and its established canon. Aligning the assessment method with the module content, the module aims practically to explore issues around access to voice and representation through a collaborative writing task.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

Recognise the multiplicity of literary feminisms, with reference to different global contexts, historical periods, and political emphases

Assess the significance of form and genre in relation to thematic content

Consider the publishing, production and reception contexts of the set texts

Make connections between writing and other forms of activism

Formulate critical questions

Conduct bibliographic research 

Analyse and interpret texts independently

Synthesise a written argument


Additional outcomes:

The module will encourage students to develop their oral communication skills through discussions in seminars, to think critically both within and across disciplines, and to interrogate their own assumptions and arguments, as well as those of others including their peers and seminar leaders.

Outline content:

The module will trace a number of key concepts and concerns in the history of modern literary feminisms. These include the recovery of ‘lost’ lives and narratives; the relationship between power and space; the intersection of sexism and patriarchy with racism, class, and sexuality; the significance of the body; and representations of and responses to sexual violence.

Set texts are likely to include works by Sara Ahmed, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Alison Booth, Judith Butler, Hazel V. Carby, Stella Duffy, Lauren Elkin, Cecile Emeke, bell hooks, Anne McClintock, Juliet Mitchell, Joyce Carol Oates, Simone Murray, Jacqueline Rose, Elaine Showalter, Carolyn Steedman, Sojourner Truth and Jacqueline Wernimont.

The module will also attend to the issue of women’s access to ‘voice’, considering the mechanisms of print and online publication and different forms of physical and digital archive. Set texts will include literary fiction and non-fiction, theory, drama, literary criticism, and audio-visual material, and will span the disciplinary categories of philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and textual history.

The module will be taught by a team of staff, likely to include Dr Nicola Abram, Dr Maddi Davies, Dr Sue Walsh and Dr Nicola Wilson (staffing correct at the time of writing).

Global context:

This module supports students’ understanding of the ways in which categories of difference such as nationality, ethnicity, and socio-economic status intersect with gender and sexism. Students will be prompted to read widely across the literary world, as the module draws on Anglophone texts by authors of English, American, African, Canadian and Asian heritage. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Contact time will take the form of ten weekly seminars, each two hours long. Each seminar will involve discussion of texts or other materials set and prepared in advance. The seminars will be taught by a number of different members of the English department, working as a team to combine their individual expertise so as to provide students with a wider range of materials and approaches. The convenors will be available for consultation on a one-to-one basis to discuss students’ work and progress on the module as a whole.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 20
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will work in pairs or groups of three to produce a collaboratively-authored document of 1,000 words on one aspect of feminist theory or praxis or one text studied on the module. This collaboratively-authored document will be worth 20% of the module mark. Students will also each write a 500-word individual reflection on the collaborative process, worth 10% of the module mark. Due Week 11 of Spring Term.

Students will also produce a 3,000-word essay on one or more of the set texts. The specific essay question or title will be determined by the student in consultation with the module convenor. This essay is worth 70% of the module mark. Due Week 2 of Summer Term.

Formative assessment methods:

Students will be given the opportunity to submit a formative essay partway through the term in which the module is taught.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

Re-submission of coursework

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 30 October 2018


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