Skip to main content

Selected Women Writers (post-1900)

woman hands typing on a typewriter

While women have a well-established "literature of their own” (Elaine Showalter’s phrase) and no longer need to prove its existence, they continue to defend its value and necessity. The aim of this course is to explain whether and how a distinct female voice, perspective, and style can be discerned in the astonishing wealth and variety of Anglophone literary traditions and why sexual difference matters in the writing and interpretation of literature.

In A Room of One's Own (1929), Virginia Woolf wonders, "Who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet's heart when caught and tangled in a woman's body?" This course introduces you to fiction, poetry, and drama by twentieth-century and twenty-first century women writers who have sought both to "measure" and to heal the division between poet's heart and woman's body that Woolf so eloquently describes. First, we will concern ourselves with the global diversity of feminine Anglophone literary traditions across categories of genre, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and geography. Second, we will explore how women writers adapt and alter masculine literary influences to both scandalous and sobering effect. Finally, we will consider how literature by women offers a unique and often dissident perspective on the radical social, economic, psychological, scientific and technological, and cultural transformations of the modern and contemporary world. Throughout the dissemination of this course, pertinent reference will be made to aural, oral, visual, and digital cultural production by women as well as to significant moments of collective struggle.


ASO reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at is external) to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them


  • The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Traditions in English, 3rd Edition, Volume 2, by S. Gilbert and S. Gubar, editors.


  • Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Third Edition. Bedford: St. Martin’s Press, 2009.


Assessment consist of: 

  • 5% Quiz
  • 30% Discussion Activities
  • 30% Essay
  • 35% Final Exam

*Evaluation Subject to Change*


  • Level 2 or above

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.