ENGL-212-01 The Female Bildungsroman: Coming of Age in US Women's Literature
Fall for 2009-2010
The Female Bildungsroman: Coming of Age in Twentieth-Century U. S. Women’s Writing

This course will examine the bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel, as a mainstay of U. S. women’s writing, focusing especially on texts from the second half of the twentieth century and on into the contemporary moment. We will also watch a number of films organized around this thematic as well. Examining narrative depictions of coming of age by a diverse group of writers and filmmakers, the course will explore ways in which gendered subjectivity is shaped by historical context and historical “memory”: indeed, many of these texts deal explicitly with issues of history, historiography, and remembrance, and depict the act of recovering some sense of the past as central to the formation (or re-formation) of personal and/or collective identity. In addition, we will examine how specific social differences of gender, race, class, sexuality, and nationality shape the narrative paradigm of “coming of age”; toward that end we will pay special attention to coming-of-age texts by “ethnic,” working-class, and GLBTQ authors. We will also become familiar with some important critical debates about the bildungsroman as a major subgenre of the novel form, and we will read a number of contemporary critical and theoretical essays on cultural constructions of gendered subjectivity.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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