ENGLISH 239: Women in Literature


Professor Karin Garlepp Burns                                                                                Phone/Voicemail: 818/710-4325

Faculty Office 4503                                                                                                    Mailbox #20, College Services Building                                                                                                                     

Office Hours: M-Th 9:00-9:30; F 9-12                                                                     E-mail: burnskg@piercecollege.edu


Course Description

English 239 reviews major literary works, from ancient times to the present, which make women their central characters.  It considers women’s changing status and sense of identity as reflected in essays, fiction, poetry, and plays. English 239 is a required course in the Women’s Studies Certificate. Please consult the college catalog for current details!


Course Prerequisites

Successful completion of English 101 with a C or higher. English 102 recommended, not required.  Prerequisites are verified on the first week of class.


Course Requirements

Attendance is expected and participation is highly encouraged.  Exams rely on material covered in class, which includes passages to be identified and analyzed in the exams.  There is regular homework on the readings and associated literary techniques.  Read the assigned literature attentively before every class meeting to ensure understanding of lectures, encourage discussion, and facilitate your review for essays and exams. Bring your book to class every meeting. For additional support, seek tutoring at the Center for Academic Success (CAS) Village 8301  (818) 719-6414, and see me in my office hours.


Grades: grades are calculated on a 4.0 scale; pluses and minuses count in final grade calculation

essay 1 (5 pages) 15%;

midterm (short answer) 15%;

essay 2 (7 pages) 25%;

miscellaneous: attendance, homework, participation  15%

final exam (short answer & essay) 30%;  


Required Texts:        

Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar The Norton Anthology of Women’s Literature: volumes I & II

Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre. Dover Thrift Edition. ISBN: 0486424499

Henry James. Daisy Miller. Dover Thrift Edition. ISBN: 0486287734


Course Policies

1.      Plagiarism: using someone else's words, ideas, or work as your own without acknowledgement  

      will result in failure of the assignment and a report to the Dean.

2. Tardies and absences will lower student performance and may affect course status.  More  

    than 2 absences by the census will result in the student being excluded from the class.

3. Late essays are accepted one period after the deadline only.  Thereafter, they lapse to an "F."

4. Late essays are penalized one letter grade. If you know of schedule conflicts that may require 

    you to submit a paper late, discuss it with me before the due date.

5. The MLA style must be used in essays to be accepted.  See MLA link on Moodle webpage.



A Brief Glossary of Literary Terms


Allusion - an implied reference to a well-known work, esp. the Bible or classical myths

Bildungsroman – novel on the formation of an individual developed through life experience, often culminating in a recognition of one’s identity in the world

Byronic hero – male prototype inspired by 19th century poet Lord Byron: dark, charismatic, sinful, tormented, and unrepentant, eliciting a disturbing attraction (e.g., Lord Rochester)

Character – representation of fictional persons, commonly categorized as flat (2-dimensional) vs. round (complex), static (unchanged in story) vs. dynamic (changed in the story)

Double -  a common archetype in literature, in which a repressed part of a character is reflected in or projected onto another character, dreams, the unconscious, or instinct

Fairy tale – a story of wish-fulfillment story where the hero’s adventure is advanced by the use of magic

Foreshadowing – subtle clues placed in a story of what is to come, to promote a sense of probability

Free verse – modern type of poetry, unrhymed and unmetered (no traditional rhythmic pattern)

Gothic – story set in a gloomy ancient structure, wherein the naïve young heroine is lured and kept captive by a mysterious magnetic hero. The gothic mode exposes unconscious, irrational, primal instincts and passions, and explores cultural taboos such as illicit sex, incest, murder, torture, bigamy, etc.

Irony – a meaningful difference between what seems and is.  Verbal irony involves the author saying something but meaning something else; dramatic irony involves our knowing what the characters do not, especially when they speak the truth without realizing it; situational irony involves a reversal of our expectations

Local color – regional fiction, especially by women, which faithfully captures the character of a particular area and culture, reproducing its local customs, manners, and dialect.

Magical realism – a story blending realism and magic seamlessly together, or, to tell a fantastical story in

such a matter-of-fact way that it sounds realistic, a favorite mode of Latin American writers

Metaphor – to use an mage to imply what something is like, to describe something as if it were something else

Motif – repetition of something a phrase or image, so that it becomes a meaningful pattern that builds up

Myth – traditional stories passed through generations that explain the world and ourselves

Point of view – perspective from which a story is told, categorized by person and scope. First  person

means the “I” is telling the story, while third person involves others. Regarding scope, the omniscient is the all-knowing perspective, while the limited is the perspective from only one character.  Modern experiments involve the second person, the “you” (see “Girl”)

Pun – a play on words, to create intrigue, complexity, and wit

Romanticism – literary movement of the early 19th century, in reaction to 18th century rationalism, which stresses emotion, intuition, spontaneity, imagination, individualism, and nature—establishing most ideals of art that we now take for granted.

Satire – a type of writing designed to mock something, often with the aim of reforming the status quo

Slant Rhyme – a type of end rhyme in poetry where the sound match is not exact, creating complexity in the resonance of the lines—preferred by Emily Dickinson and many modern poets

Stream of consciousness – a mode of narration that simulates actual experience by recording the psychic free flow of impressions, feelings, memories, associations, and thought, in its raw chaotic form

Symbol – a concrete image that stands for itself but suggests additional meanings

Tale – a short story set in remote places and times, with a dramatic, conclusive ending

Theme – the implied meaning of a work of literature, expressing some aspect of the human condition; not necessarily a moral or message, especially in modern literature, which avoids this approach

Tone – the implied attitude of a character toward her/his situation or of author toward her/his subject