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ENGL301: Introduction to Literary Theory

Unit 4: Feminism, Gender, and Queer Theory   In this unit, you will examine various forms of feminist and gender theories, recognizing the ways in which categories of gender and sex have shaped literary expression. You will explore the deep ambivalence that many of these literary theories share when addressing basic analytic categories such as the concepts of gender, woman, and man, exploring, for example, the way in which contemporary gender theory considers such concepts to be social constructions.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 20.75 hours.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 8 hours

☐    Subunit 4.1.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.1.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.1.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.1.4: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.1.5: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.1.6: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.2: 6 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.2.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.2.4: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 6.75 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3.2: 3.75 hours  

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • compare and contrast first-wave and second-wave feminism;
  • provide definitions for and compare and contrast the terms feminism, gynocriticism, and French feminism;
  • compare and contrast the works of theorists Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous, and Julia Kristeva;
  • define the concepts of écriture féminine and abjection;
  • describe and state the major tenets of gender theory;
  • describe and state the major tenets of J.L. Austin’s performativity theory;
  • describe the importance of the work of Judith Butler, especially her work on gender performativity and queer theory; and
  • explain the significance of and define the following terms: liminalitytransivity, and gender.

4.1 Feminism   4.1.1 First-Wave versus Second-Wave Feminism   - Reading: Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Nancy Tuana’s “Approaches to Feminism” and The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “Introduction to Feminist Theory”

Link: Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and
Information: *The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: *Dr. Nancy
Tuana’s [“Approaches to
Feminism”](http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-approaches/) (HTML)
and The Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary Theory*
Coursepack: [“Introduction to Feminist
Theory”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ENGL301-Introduction-to-Feminist-Theory.pdf) (PDF)  

Instructions: Access the readings, starting with Dr. Tuana’s
encyclopedia article, which provides a discussion of feminism and
its development. The Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to
Literary Theory* Coursepack may be downloaded at the top of this
course, or the section titled “Introduction to Feminist Theory” may
be downloaded from the link above. Read that section and answer the
study questions provided at the end of the section.  

 Following your reading, consider also answering the following
questions: What insight does feminist theory provide to the study of
literature? What are the differences between the first and second
waves of feminism?  

 Reading these sections should take approximately 1.5 hours.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

4.1.2 Feminism Migrates to Literary Theory   - Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 20: The Classical Feminist Tradition”

Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: *Introduction to Theory
of Literature*: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s [“Lecture 20: The Classical
Feminist
Tradition”](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxZDA3M2lOM ""The Classical Feminist Tradition" ") (YouTube)  

 Also available in:  
 [HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and
Quicktime](http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-300/lecture-20)  
    
Instructions: Watch the 53-minute lecture. Note that a transcript of
the lecture, an audio MP3 file, and Flash and QuickTime versions of
the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website,
also linked above.  

 After watching the lecture, consider answering the following
questions: What are some of the key concepts of classical feminist
theory? How does classical feminist theory differ from later forms
of feminist theory?  
    
 Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

4.1.3 Elaine Showalter and Gynocriticism   - Reading: Nanjing University’s version of Dr. Elaine Showalter’s “Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism” and The New York Times: Dr. Helene Moglen’s “Enter Gynocriticism”

Link: Nanjing University’s version of Dr. Elaine Showalter’s
[“Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of
Feminist
Criticism”](http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:6WH79S6KySMJ:ecmd.nju.edu.cn/UploadFile/17/8062/ophelia.doc+%E2%80%9CRepresenting+Ophelia:+Women,+Madness,+and+the+Responsibilities+of+Feminist+Criticism%E2%80%9D&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari) (HTML)
and *The *New York Times**: Dr. Helene Moglen’s [“Enter
Gynocriticism”](http://www.nytimes.com/1985/06/16/books/enter-gynocriticism.html?&pagewanted=1) (HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read Showalter’s essay as well as the *New York
Times* review of Showalter’s book *The New Feminist Criticism.*  

 In her essay “Representing Ophelia,” Showalter examines literary
and artistic representations of the figure of Ophelia (from
Shakespeare’s *Hamlet*), explicating each instance as an index of a
particular period’s attitude towards women and their sexuality.
*Moglen’s book review offers* a primary account of the effects of
Showalter’s ideas on contemporary discussions of literary theory.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
What are some of the various approaches that feminist critics have
taken toward analyzing the character of Ophelia in *Hamlet*?
Considering Helene Moglen’s critique of Showalter’s volume, what are
the book’s shortcomings, according to Moglen? And what are the
strengths that still make this book an effective collaboration with
gynocriticism?  

Completing these readings should take approximately 1.5 hours.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

4.1.4 French Feminism: Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous, and Julia Kristeva   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Feminist Criticism;” Virginia Tech’s Center for Digital Discourse and Culture: Dr. Kristin Switala’s Feminist Theory Website: Dr. Kelly Oliver’s “Julia Kristeva” and Bridget Holland’s “Luce Irigaray;” and The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Sarah K. Donovan’s “Luce Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Feminist Criticism” (PDF); Virginia Tech’s Center for Digital Discourse and Culture: Dr. Kristin Switala’s Feminist Theory Website: Dr. Kelly Oliver’s “Julia Kristeva” (HTML) and Bridget Holland’s “Luce Irigaray” (HTML); and The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Sarah K. Donovan’s “Luce Irigaray” (HTML)
 

Instructions: Access the readings, beginning with the entry from the
*Glossary of Literary Theory* titled “Feminist Criticism,” and
focusing specifically on the French feminist construction of the
concept of *woman* in literature. Then read the short entries from
the *Feminist Theory Website* on Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray -
two prominent French feminist thinkers - as well as Dr. Sarah K.
Donovan’s article on Irigaray.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
What are some of the key elements of contemporary feminist theory?  
    
 Completing these readings should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: The material from the Glossary of Literary Theory
above has been reposted by the kind permission of Greig E. Henderson
and Christopher Brown, and can be viewed in its original form
[here](http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Feminist_criticism.html).
Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be
reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the
copyright holder. For the other materials linked in this reading
assignment, please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed
on the webpages above.

4.1.5 Écriture Féminine   - Reading: Stanford University’s Presidential Lectures in the Humanities and Arts: Excerpts from Hélène Cixous’s “The Laugh of the Medusa” and Mary Jane Parrine’s “Hélène Cixous”

Link: Stanford University’s Presidential Lectures in the Humanities
and Arts: Excerpts from Hélène Cixous’s [“The Laugh of the
Medusa”](http://prelectur.stanford.edu/lecturers/cixous/laugh.html) (HTML)
and Mary Jane Parrine’s [“Hélène
Cixous”](http://prelectur.stanford.edu/lecturers/cixous/index.html) (HTML)  

 Instructions: Access the readings, starting with the short excerpts
from Hélène Cixous’s “The Laugh of the Medusa,” which provide a
basic idea of Cixous’s concept of *écriture féminine*. In this
highly figurative essay, Cixous combines elements of Lacan’s
psychoanalysis and Derrida’s deconstructionism to argue that women
can most accurately tell their own stories by writing through their
bodies. After reading the excerpts from Cixous’s essay, read
Stanford University’s overview of Cixous’s place in the world of
literary theory.  
    
 Completing these readings should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

4.1.6 Kristeva: Freud, Semiotics, and Abjection   - Reading: Purdue University: Dr. Dino Felluga’s Introductory Guide to Critical Theory: “Modules on Kristeva:” “I: On Psychosexual Development” and “II: On the Abject”

Link: Purdue University: Dr. Dino Felluga’s *Introductory Guide to
Critical Theory*: “Modules on Kristeva:” [“I: On Psychosexual
Development”](http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/psychoanalysis/kristevadevelop.html) (HTML)
and [“II: On the
Abject”](http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/psychoanalysis/kristevaabject.html) (HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read Dr. Felluga’s two articles on Julia Kristeva’s
work.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
How does knowledge of psychosexual development help us to understand
the role of women and feminism in the study of literature?  

Completing these readings should take approximately 1 hour.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

4.2 Gender Theory   4.2.1 Gender as Construct   - Reading: The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Vince Brewton’s “Gender Studies and Queer Theory” and Dr. Aurelia Armstrong’s “Foucault and Feminism”

Link: The University of Tennessee’s *Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy:* Dr. Vince Brewton’s [“Gender Studies and Queer
Theory”](http://www.iep.utm.edu/literary/) (HTML) and Dr. Aurelia
Armstrong’s [“Foucault and
Feminism”](http://www.iep.utm.edu/foucfem/) (HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read the two articles on gender theory.  

 Dr. Armstrong’s article on Foucault and feminism prompts us to
think about how theories of gender intersect with theories about
society, particularly societal power structures. As you read, think
about how Foucault articulates the relationships among power,
sexuality, and the body.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following
questions: What is the difference between the terms *gender* and
*sex* as they are used in literary criticism and theory? How do
feminist thinkers such as Judith Butler and Nancy Hartsock account
for Foucault’s theories? In what ways does Foucault help us to think
about notions of political identity and autonomy (or freedom)?  

Completing these readings should take approximately 1 hour.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

4.2.2 Bodies and Gender Practices   - Reading: Purdue University: Dr. Dino Felluga’s Introductory Guide to Critical Theory: Dr. Dino Felluga and Dr. Emily Allen’s “General Introduction to Theories of Gender and Sex”

Link: Purdue University: Dr. Dino Felluga’s *Introductory Guide to
Critical Theory*: Dr. Dino Felluga and Dr. Emily Allen’s [“General
Introduction to Theories of Gender and
Sex”](http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/genderandsex/modules/introduction.html) (HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read Dr. Felluga and Dr. Allen’s overview, which
traces concepts of sexuality from ancient times to modernity. As you
read, pay close attention to historical developments in the
treatment of the article’s ideas of *bodily sex* and *acquired
gender*.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
To what extent do Dr. Felluga and Dr. Allen suggest that gender is
something that is performed?  

Completing this reading should take approximately 2 hours.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

4.2.3 The Impact of J.L. Austin’s Performativity Theory   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Speech Act Theory” and “Langue/Parole”

Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher
Brown’s *Glossary of Literary Theory*: [“Speech Act
Theory”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Speech-Act-Theory.pdf) (PDF)
and
[“Langue/Parole”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/ENGL301-Langue-4.2.3.pdf) (PDF)  
    
 Instructions: Read the glossary’s two entries, which provide an
excellent review of J.L. Austin’s ideas as well as a further
discussion of the theories of structuralism and linguistics. As you
read, pay close attention to Austin’s notion of *performative
utterances* and Austin’s three components of speech: *locutionary
acts*, *illocutionary acts*, and *perlocutionary* acts. Also be sure
to give particular attention to the glossary’s entry on *langue* and
*parole*, considering the importance of these concepts to literary
theory and criticism.  

Reading these sections should take approximately 1 hour.


 Terms of Use: The material above has been reposted by the kind
permission of Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can be
viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is
under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without
explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

4.2.4 Judith Butler and Gender Performativity   - Reading: Yale University’s version of Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: “Preface” and Purdue University: Dr. Dino Felluga’s Introductory Guide to Critical Theory: “Modules on Butler:” “I: On Gender and Sex” and “II: On Performativity”

Link: Yale University’s version of Judith Butler’s *Gender Trouble*:
[“Preface”](http://www.yale.edu/wff/pdf/Gender_Trouble.pdf) (PDF)
and Purdue University: Dr. Dino Felluga’s *Introductory Guide to
Critical Theory*: “Modules on Butler:” [“I: On Gender and
Sex”](http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/genderandsex/modules/butlergendersex.html) (HTML)
and [“II: On
Performativity”](http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/genderandsex/modules/butlerperformativity.html) (HTML)  

 *Gender Trouble* also is available in:  

[Kindle](http://www.amazon.com/Gender-Trouble-Feminism-Subversion-ebook/dp/B000FBFG7G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1280950550&sr=1-1)  

Instructions: Access the readings, starting with the 1999 preface to
Butler’s book *Gender Trouble,* for a first-hand look at Butler’s
conceptualization of gender performance. In *Gender Trouble*, Butler
argues that categories of gender and sex seem natural only because
they are continually constructed and reinforced by the repetition of
stylized acts, or performances. Following your reading of Butler,
read the two sections from Dr. Felluga’s overview of Butler and her
work; these sections provide a more concise explanation of Butler’s
theories.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
How is gender performed, according to Butler? Can one’s sex be
performed in the same way? Considering Butler’s ideas, do you think
that gender is something that is innate, or is it something that is
developed and situational?  

 Reading these sections should take approximately 2 hours.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

4.3 Queer Theory   4.3.1 Distinction between Queer Theory and Identity Politics   - Reading: Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Cressida Heyes’s “Identity Politics” and The Saylor Foundation's An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: "Queer Theory"

Link: Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and
Information: *The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:* Dr. Cressida
Heyes’s [“Identity
Politics”](http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-politics/) (HTML)
and The Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary Theory*
Coursepack: [“Queer
Theory”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ENGL301-Queer-Theory.pdf) (PDF)  
    
Instructions: Access the readings, beginning with the *The Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy*’s entry titled “Identity Politics.” In
particular, focus on the entry section titled “From Gay and Lesbian
to Queer” for a discussion of the function of identity politics in
the formation of queer theory. The Saylor Foundation’s *An
Introduction to Literary Theory* Coursepack may be downloaded at the
top of this course, or the section titled “Queer Theory” may be
downloaded from the link above. Read that section and answer the
study questions provided at the end of the reading.  

 Following your reading, consider also answering the following
questions: What is *identity*? Is identity entirely structured by
society? What are some of the social forces that influence our
identities?  

 Reading these sections should take approximately 2 hours.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 23: Queer Theory and Gender Performativity”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 23: Queer Theory and Gender Performativity” (YouTube)

    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 50-minute lecture in which Dr. Fry examines the role of identity politics in the study of literature. Note that a transcript of the lecture, an audio MP3 file, and Flash and QuickTime versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    After watching the lecture, consider answering the following questions: How does Fry help us understand the term queer? How does this concept differ from the more common denotation of this word?

    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

4.3.2 Liminality, Transivity, and Gender   - Reading: Boston University’s version of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet: “Chapter 5: Proust and the Spectacle of the Closet” Link: Boston University’s version of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet: “Chapter 5: Proust and the Spectacle of the Closet” (HTML and PDF)

 Instructions: Read the chapter from Sedgwick’s *Epistemology of the
Closet*, which includes a discussion of the themes
of *liminality* and *transivity *as they relate to gender theory.
In *Epistemology of the Closet*, Sedgwick claims that a critical
analysis of the distinctions between homosexuality and
heterosexuality is crucial to an understanding of modern Western
culture.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
Where do concepts of sexuality come from?  


Completing this reading should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: Boston University: “Honoring Eve” Panel Discussion on “Feminism and Queer Theory”

    Link: Boston University: “Honoring Eve” Panel Discussion on “Feminism and Queer Theory” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch the 103-minute panel discussion from the Boston University “Honoring Eve” Symposium, which discusses Sedgwick’s critical role in the formulation of gender theory.

    After watching this lecture, consider answering the following question: How does Sedgwick challenge the ways in which sexuality is understood in Western culture?

    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1.75 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.