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ENGL 241- Gradations In The Struggle Of American Women: A Re-imagined Text In It's Historical Moment Course

ENGL 241- Gradations In The Struggle Of American Women: A Re-imagined Text In It's Historical Moment Course

I felt it was important to redesign the Text in its Historical moment course, especially as I just finished the course myself at Queens College because it is important to see the progression of thought that occurs throughout history in different works of literature and how it has led to up to the historical moment that America is in right now. Much of the course I took in the spring semester talked about the gross injustices that occur within our public institutions that disadvantaged minorities from prospering as natural born citizens and the cultural/societal problems that were left in the wake of oppressive legislation and misinformation from major media outlets.

  The course provided a large historical basis for these issues and the works of literature that were chosen highlighted the particular issues of that era, helping to create an educated dialogue between students and inviting them to share their own experiences and feelings. I decided to redesign the course around the struggles of Women between I felt it wasn’t discussed to the full extent that I would have liked it to and could of provided some other seminal feminist literature from the sixties and seventies. One of the core strengths of the Arts of Dissent course was that the literature that was chosen seemed to be parallel with other historical eras and although the issues had evolved over time, it was still relevant to the large conversation that authors were trying to have and should be having on the national scale.

The political climate was also another important factor for the development of this reimagined course because the Trump administration has been responsible for a great regression in our government and eroded precious social programs that aid and educate our citizens. The largest defeat for American women had to be the defunding of Planned Parenthood, a non- governmental program that gave Women birth control and vital information about reproductive processes. Without this program, thousands are women are at risk because they will not be aware of this information and feel they are not in control of their reproductive rights. Women all around the world responded negatively to America's republican controlled government and stood together strong to assert their basic freedoms and send a strong message to the new regime that an abuse of power would not go unchecked.

The women's social and political movement in America has been active since the nineteenth century, so the topic itself is very large in scope. I wanted each section to be in conversation with one another and show the progression of thought on issues like birth control, sexism in the workplace and racial justice. I divided the course into three sections which marks the different waves of feminism throughout American history. It is important to see the impetus of these issues in their historical moment and how they have transformed throughout history. The writers from the chosen works documented to the best of their ability their own struggles in relations to society. For the first wave feminism section, the works have strong views on the patriarchal system, advocating for the rights of African Americans, who were severely oppressed by Anglo Saxon America. The second wave movement focused on the intricate issues of family, sexuality and sexism in the workplace. Finally, the third wave of feminist movement, which was in response to a lot of the perceived flaws of the second wave and were more centered on identity.


                                 ENGL 241: Gradations in the Struggle of American Women                                   Student Christopher Jones @Email Cjonesywails@gmail.com                          Course Description- Students will delve into the intricate issues that surrounded the three feminist movements that defined a nation and were a catalyst for strong advocacy for Women's rights throughout the centuries. Students will be asked to close read the provided works and annotate the sentences or words that may led us to the crux of the piece and the overall message it's trying to send to it's audience. Which audience is it? Or isn't for that matter?  How has that particular issue they are alluding to transformed itself over the course of the centuries? As the woman's movement became more progressive, building a large following of determined, strong minded intellectuals, the language in the writing became more personal and expanded the scope of woman's issues tremedously, allowing more women the opportunity to disclose personal accounts of the injustices they face like martial rape and domestic violence. 

Learning Goals  - To analyze and annotate selected texts and discover the intellectual project behind them. This would require doing extensive research on the narrator and making associations between text and the historical circumstances                                                                                                                                                                          - To engage in intellectual discourse about the readings and to piggyback on one another's comments, rather than go off on a tangent that does not encourage educational debate                                                                  - To relate historical texts back to our present times during class discussion. This would be students trying to understand how the conversation about a particular issue for women has mutated to a greater or lesser degree. It would be an opportunity for students to share their own personal struggles in relation to the Women's movement and how they have participated or disagreed with the goals they have.                                                            - To produce an original essay about an historical or modern issue that plagues American women. which would need a strong historical basis behind the claims made and supporting evidence from feminist authors or literary scholars of the particular period.

Grading Policy-       A- This is outstanding work and serves as an exemplary example of how literature and historical texts can be interpreted and written about in relation to it's historical moment. The student has provided a strong historical basis for their assertions and have made keen inferences about the text that can help us better understand the intellectual project. It has provided supporting evidence from other scholary sources and can be related back to present time in a clear way, The writing is well structured and there are little to no grammatical errors.                                                                                                                                                                                            B- A very interesting analysis on historical and literary texts but falls a bit short of excellence. There are mistakes in the interpretation of the text due to misunderstandings from research or poorly applied historical findings. The context provided is a bit vague but still manages to showcase a clear association between the text and the historical moment. It may even give insight into feminine issues of present time but becomes murky when provide supporting evidence for those claims. There are moderate amount of grammatical errors and the structure is a little difficult to understand.                                                                                                                    C- A poorly executed attempt to relate historical circumstances to the literary/historical text but shows a progression of intellectual thought about the texts. The student has the opportunty to revise his paper and or can contact/visit the profesor for any questions or concerns about the homework or essay assignments.

How to Succeed In The Course- Doing well in this course is contingent on partcipating and producing clear literary analysis/research papers. It is a privilege  to be able to attend a university and converse with other literary scholars like yourselves so, I allow you to fully engage with one another until the end of the class session when appropiate. I understand other classes get in the way, so I'm happy enough to grant extensions on short and long papers for students. Failure to produce no written work for at least one assignment is not tolerated and could result in failure of the course. Every week when class is scheduled, students must write and submit via email a short two paragraph journal about a news event concerning a feminine issue or advocacy for women's rights. You will be required to read aloud your findings and partcipate in discussion thereafter.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Research Papers-  Students will be required to right a research paper for each section.                                        1. The first one will be on the book " The Yellow Wallpaper " By Charlotte Perkins Gilman. How is this work of feminist literature in relation to the women's movements against the partichary in the late nineteeth century? Though extensive research, what were the injustices that were occuring around this time that specifically targeted women? What conversations were being had about basic rights like marriage, sex and suffrage? How was the patriarchy infringing on those rights and what legislation was trying to be passed to counteract their injustices and oppression?

2. The second paper will be on " Sister Outsider " By Audre Lorde. How do Lorde's personal experiences reflect the on going marches and advocacy that was occuring during the sixties and seventies? Why was this seminal feminist work a major influence for gender theory and allowed Women to open up about their own experiences with patriarchal oppression, sexism and racism? How did the black feminist movement diverge from the predominately white feminist movements that began in the early nineteeth century?

3. The third paper will be on " Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity" By Judith Butler. How is Bulter's book creating a new dialogue  about gender identity and opening the doors to include Women of all different races to take part in the discussion? What different theorist frameworks is Butler utlizing and how have those theorists had an influence on Bulter and feminism as a whole collective movement? How has the language radically changed for describing feminine issues and addressing them to a wider, uneducated audience?

Final Paper- Students will be allowed to choose one major work from whatever section of their choosing and write about how it is in relation to the past, the present and the future moments of American women in society. What conversations was this book having with past feminist literature or prophesying about future literature? Students will highlight key historical moments where the language or discourse between feminist movements has radically shifted and taken on a new form. For example, if one were inclined to choose Lorde's" Sister Outsider ", they could talk about how the patriarchy subjugated woman's into rigid gender roles in the nineteenth century and how as overtime they gained certain rights, the patriarchy controlled Women through violent means such as martial rape and tried to repress their sexuality. That in turn led to the important disucssions that Third Wave feminist were having about identity and sexuality. The student's intellectual project will be to track the historical dialogue and are not only confined to the historical texts assigned for this course but can do their own extensive research on comtemporary litertary sources.

Required Reading-  "The Yellow Wallpaper" By Charlotte Perkins Gilman{1892}                                                                                          " Sister Outsider" By Audre Lorde{1984}                                                                                                   " Gender Trouble: Feminism And the Subversion of Identity " By Judith Butler{1990}

Weeks 1-4 " First Wave Feminism: Oppressive  Patriarchy                                                                                 Main Text: "The Yellow Wallpaper"                                                                                                                       Additional Texts: " The Destructive Male " By Elizabeth Cady Stanton {1868}                                                                                  " A Slave's Appeal " By Elizabeth Cady Stanton {1860}                                                                                       " Misogony in Excelsis "   By Annie Besant {1887}                                                                Key Questions and Themes: How has the patriarchy oppressed Women and African Americans in nineteenth century society? What examples does the author give to showcase these injustices and opression and how does it relate to the historical circumstances of that particular era? Where do we see a potential catalyst for a rise for a national, collective movement?

Weeks 4-8 " Second Wave Feminism: Problems in the Male Dominated Household and Public Institutions   Main text: " Sister Outsider "                                                                                                                             Additonal texts: " The Morality of Birth Control " By Margaret Sanger {1921}                                                                                 " The Woman- Identified Woman " By Radicalesbians{1970}                                                                               " SCUM Manifesto" By Valerie Solanas {1967}                                                                         Key Questions And Themes: How does the Second Feminist movement address the issues that come up in the household and public instituions? What psychoanalytic or queer theorists do these authors utlize and how is it in relation to the historical moment of then and back in the nineteenth century? How has the emergenced of social studies changed the national dialogue and the direction of the collective feminist movement?

Weeks 8-12 " Third Wave Feminism: Sexuality and Identity of American Women Of All Ethincities and Genders                                                                                                                                                         Main Text: " Gender Trouble: Feminism And The Subversion Of Identity "                                                              Additional Texts: " Becoming the Third Wave" By Rebecca Walker{1991}                                                                                        " Cunt: A Declaration of Independence" By Inga Muscio{1998}                                                                             " The Third Wave of Feminsim Is Now, And It Is Intersectional" By Jennifer Rand {2017}       Key Questions And Themes: How was the Third Wave Feminist movement gained a sense of empowerment from the oppressional patricarchy and institutional injustice? Has the internet provided Women an important tool for reaching out and disclosing personal account of sexism and misogany in everyday life? How did the language become less critical and celebral but now is used as a tool to create more individual collective movements that strives to enact social and cultural change?

Week 12- 14: Write Final Paper and submit rough and final drafts. You will be given the opportunity to come meet with me for ten minutes and discuss any questions or concerns.                                                                                                           

 

                                                                                  

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        

             

 

 

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