Dr. Karen Palmer

This text has been written for Dr. Karen Palmer’s ENG 237: Women in Literature course at Yavapai College. The text has been licensed under CC BY NC SA, except where noted otherwise in the text. It draws from original work by Dr. Palmer, who earned her PhD in Women’s Studies from Trinity Theological Seminary in 2015, other creative commons material from a variety of sources, and works in the public domain. Sources and licensing are noted at the end of each section of the text in italics.

All images in the text are either in the public domain or used under a CC license. Work for modern authors, which is outside of the public domain, has been linked directly to the most stable source available.

In this text, students will be reading and thinking critically about work written by and about women over about a 1500 year period. From non-fiction to drama to poetry and short fiction, students will study many different kinds of literature from a variety of voices and perspectives.

The text begins with an introduction to reading literature and applying critical theory, especially feminist critical theory, to literature.

The next section of the text focuses on Medieval Literature, with a time span ranging from about the 600s to the mid 1400s. First, readers learn about the origins of Folklore and Fairy Tales, reading work from Marie de France. Next, readers discover more about the history of medieval women writers, especially contemplative literature written by nuns. In this section, readers will read excerpts from texts by Leoba, Dhuoda, and Julian of Norwich. This latter part of the text draws heavily on sections from Dr. Palmer’s PhD work.

The third section of the text focuses on Restoration Comedy in the long 18th century (from about the mid 1600s to 1800). Dr. Palmer has based this section of the text on her experience in her graduate literature courses, drawing from her own writing for the text here. Students will read work from George Etherege and Aphra Behn in this section, comparing the ways in which a male and female author represent women in drama.

Finally, the text covers modern literature–poetry and short fiction–from the 1800s to the present. In this section, readers get a brief overview of the Romantic, Realist, Modernist, Post Colonialist, and Contemporary literary periods. Students will get to read a wide selection of poetry and short fiction from each of these periods.

I hope that as students discover the voices of women, they will see that women have a much larger part to play in history than they are normally given credit for. By reading their work, saying their names today, we are giving their voices new life.

Dr. Karen Palmer

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