Living/Learning Center Programs
The University of Vermont
(A residential TAP course.)
Dr. Valerie Rohy
As a TAP course, the “Women Writing Women” program has a dual purpose: to provide advising and support for first-year students, and to introduce key ideas and texts in women’s literature and feminist thought. This seminar will use writing by women about women to examine issues of family and marriage, work and economics, sexuality, education, conformity and resistance, politics, appearance and the body, female friendship, race and ethnicity, and ideologies of gender. We will read a wide range of writings by women, including both canonical, well-known literature and less familiar texts, and including novels, poetry, a play, short stories, and personal essays. We will ask: What defines “women”? What complicates that identity category? How is gender difference produced and reproduced in American culture? What has changed for U.S. women in the last generation or two and what has not? The course is discussion-based to foreground students’ ideas; its assignments stress the writing process and critical thinking. Our readings will probably include Nella Larsen’s Passing, Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles, Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. We will also view and discuss three films written by women, such as Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust and Thelma and Louise, written by Callie Khouri.
(Note: This program is only open to incoming first-year students in the College of Arts and Sciences.)
The residential program will be an integral part of this course in both formal and informal ways. The residential suite will create a community of women and men committed to thinking critically about gender and considering feminist perspectives. Such a community will offer an enclave of support and intellectual exchange distinct from the general UVM undergraduate culture, which, like the rest of contemporary American culture, can at times be unsafe for and dismissive of women (and which tends to reinforce limiting heteronormative and patriarchal gender roles for both women and men). In addition to the support and collegiality such a community will provide, the course will make use of residential students’ proximity to one another (and to Prof. Rohy, who is a Living/Learning faculty resident) in the following ways:
Prof. Rohy will organize three meetings with pizza at her apartment in L/L to check in with students and continue the fall semester’s discussions: (1) in January, a welcome back gathering at which we will also plan further spring activities; (2) in March, advising for course selection for the following fall; and (3) in May a pre-finals “study break.” Prof. Rohy will encourage the residential students to continue the fall film series by choosing three new films on gender issues to be screened for the public in L/L in the spring semester.
Women Writing Women
Required Course Information
ENG 005E (90433), 3 credits, Prof. Valerie Rohy
Spring semester activities will be announced during the fall semester.