Lit 283 81 Women in Literature
Fall 200 0: Dr. Ramirez, Department of English - SUNY Oneonta
Office Hours: Tues - Thurs 1:20 - 2:20 p.m., Wed 2:00 - 3:00 (hours subject to change) and by email
Office: Netzer 319; 607-436-3442,
Course Meets Wed 6:00-8:30 p.m., SCHU 213

Texts: available exclusively at Damascene Books on Cherry Street
  • Thomas Hardy. Tess of the d'Ubervilles (1891) A big, fat, Victorian novel.
  • Virginia Woolf. A Room of One's Own (1929) A slim, but dense, modernist treatise.
  • Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar (1963) A highly readable but disturbing fictional autobiography.
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga. Nervous Conditions (1988) A complex postcolonial narrative.
In addition to these novels, you are expected to read introductory material about the authors.

Sign up for one presentation on master syllabus and record your date
* Plan to spend more time than usual on reading

Unit I:  Class, Labor, and Love
8/30  Introduction to Course

9/6 Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Introduction (3-18)
Phase the First. The Maiden: Ch. I-XI (31-95)
  • The Durbeyfield's aristocratic, but decayed, lineage as seen in Sir John
  • Tess's participation in the May-Day Dance, or "club-walking"
  • Assumption of her (drunken) father's role 
  • The death of Prince makes Tess regard herself "in the light of a murderess" 
  • Tess feels "a Malthusian" toward her fertile mother
  • Introduction of Stoke-d'Urberville family--merchant class and somewhat corrupt
  • Alec's pursuit, and not Mr. Clare's.
  • Tess's employment, her family's hopes, and her ill-timed fall


*9/13 Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Phase the Second. Maiden No More: Ch. XII-XV (95-118)
  • Four months later in October, Tess leaves Alec, her anger flashing at him
  • Appearance of biblical signs, "Thy, Damnation, Slumbereth, Not"
  • The mother's lament and Tess's response that she knew no better of men, that she didn't benefit from her mother's experience or the knowledge imparted in novels 
  • In August, she harvests wheat and nurses a newborn
  • Conf lation of landscape and Tess's body
  • Cruelty of the reaper
  • Death of Sorrow and his baptism by Tess

Phase the Third. The Rally: XVI-XXIV (119-164)
  • In May, two years later Tess leaves home again at the a ge of 20
  • Association with pagan life
  • Employment at Richard Crick's dairy
  • Meeting of Angel Clare; their shared, but misunderstood, feelings of mishap
  • Angel's departure from university life and the strict values of his family
  • His tr aining as a landowner 
  • The "levity" of dairy life: the story of Jack Dollop and Tess's shame
  • Class differences between dairy maids and Clare
  • Tess's beauty and Clare's infatuation

9/20 Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Phase the Fourth. The Consequence: Ch. XXV- XXXIV (165-231)
Presentation on Reading
  • Tess's suitability as farmer's wife
  • Mrs. Crick's mead and black pudding 
  • Mr. Clare's religious  background and his "proper," fashionable, but cold-hearted sons
  • Relation of Tess's virtues to Mr. and Mrs. Clare, "she's actualized poetry"
  • Mr. Clare's meeting with young d'Urberville and the latter's abuse of the clergyman
  • The proposal and Tess's refusal
  • Tess's worship of Angel as godlike figure
  • Discovery of Tess's claim to d'Urberville name
  • Mrs. Durbeyfield's advice
  • The letter, unread
  • Crowing of the cock in the afternoon--bad omen
  • Marriage then mutual confessions


9/27 Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Phase the Fifth. The Woman Pays: Ch. XXXV-XLIV (231-299)
  • Tess not the woman Clare knew
  • Clare's withdrawal
  • Tess's feeling of guilt and despair
  • The portraits of the d'Urberville women
  • No possibility of divorce
  • Clare's sleepwalking
  • Tess's return home and her family's embarrassment and doubt
  • Clare's invitation to Izzy to go to Brazil
  • Tess helps support her family because they think she has Clare's money
  • Tess's pride, Marian's offer and their toil
  • Tess sees Mercy Chant and later d'Urberville

*10/4 Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Phase the Sixth. The Convert: Ch. XLV-LII (299-356)

Phase the Seventh. Fulfillment: Ch. LIII-LIX (356-384)
  • Angel returns home, weakened, from Brazil
  • Perusal of his correspondence
  • Clare's interview with Mrs. Durbeyfield who appears in respectable widow garb
  • Tess living as Mrs. d'Urberville
  • Her anger at Alec and his demise
  • Tess's escape with Clare
  • Discussion at Stonehenge and her request for him to marry 'Liza-Lu
  • Justice served; Clare walks away with a new partner

Unit II: Intellectual Life
10/11 A Room of One's Own < /b>Ch. One - Ch. Two (3-40)

*10/18 A Room of One's Own Ch. Three, Ch. Five and Six (41-57; 79-114)

Unit III: The Troubled Self
10/25 The Bell Jar Ch. 1-7 (1-86)

*11/1 The Bell Jar Ch. 8-14 (87-183)

11/8 The Bell Jar Ch. 15-20, biographical note (184-264)

Unit IV: Women's Education and Subalternity
11/15 Nervous Conditions Ch. 1-2 (1-34)

11/29 Nervous Conditions Ch. 3-5 (35-102)

12/6 Nervous Conditions Ch. 6-8 (103-175); Four Page Draft Due

12/13 Nervous Conditions Ch. 9-10 (176-204) Final Essay Due



  • Attendance is taken each meeting.  Given unforeseen events, you may find yourself unable to attend class.  You are allowed one absence without grade reduction, so use it wisely.  I don't inquire why you are absent, so you needn't tell me.  Instead, remember that it is your responsibility to obtain notes and assignments and to catch up on any reading. You may only make up ONE response or presentation.
  • Failure to email your outline AT LEAST two days in advance and to present on your assigned day will lower your presentation grade by one half letter.
Coursework and Conduct
  • Daily participation: Participatio n is required.  Because we alternate between lecture and discussion and because we have daily presentations, we need to use our time strategically.  You are expected to bring the relevant novel, to take notes, and to be prepared.
  • No sharing of texts; buy your own, write in them, make them yours.  I check marginalia periodically.
  • For each class, expec t to read roughly 70-80 pages, spending 4  hours in preparation for discussion and for success in your written work.  If you read slowly, allow more time.
  • In preparing outside assignments, be prepared to spend hours in the computer lab.
  • You are expected to manage your electronic files in an orderly and logical manner.
  • Reading Responses: These responses are designed to gauge your involvement with the texts and your understanding of the debates surrounding women's roles, how they are represented in literature, and what contributions they make to their households or to the economy.  Preparation for these responses includes reading, participating in discussion, and attending to the questions of student presentations.  Indeed, many times I will choose a passage that come s from your presentation outlines, so it is wise to keep these and review them and to correct them if there are any misreadings.

  • As literature is designed to reveal hidden meanings, causes, and relationships rather than to recall mere events, the reading responses will encourage you to interpret the literature.  As such, plot rehearsal will not get you very far. Instead, for each answer, you will want to see if you have addressed the question, "Why?"  This may seem rather basic, but asking yourself "why" pushes you to analyze things, to seek out connections, to hypothesize about character motivations.

    In addition, you will find that Tess offers different critical approaches to reading  the novel.  This edition will help you move between (feminist, marxist, postcolonial) theory and literature. By the end of the semester, you should have shaped y our own theoretical approach for reading the work of Woolf, Plath, and Dangarembga.

  • Active Reading: Active Reading means, among other things, writing in your book.  Your use of active reading is the core of understanding, and full engagement with the texts will certainly enhance your grade.  The basic techniques of active reading involve:
    • 1) Using the margi ns to take notes, ask questions, draw diagrams.
      2) Underlining important or striking passages.
      3) Boxing new terms, characters, or repetition of ideas.
      4) Summarizing your response to the work at the end of the text.
      5) Jotting down words or references you need t o research.
    Be aware that the material includes foreign words, cultural references, and places.  It is your responsibility as an active reader to look up such terms, or to ask questions.
  • Notebooks: You should have a notebook devoted to this class.  Classes will sometimes begin with five or ten minutes of writing in your notebooks about the given reading.  Th is time is exclusively for focusing thoughts and for expressing them before class discussion.  Include the following (neatly organized) sections: Unit I, Unit II, Unit III, Unit IV In class writing, Presentation Ideas, Final Exam Ideas.

  • Oral Presentations: Each student will prepare a 7- 8 minute oral presentation based on an analysis of a given text or section of a text.  The presentation has five stages:
    • 1) Sign up for a date and subject.
      2) Create an outline for your presentation.
      3) Email me the outline at least two days before your presentation.  Make any changes I require.
      4) Present your ideas in class on the assigned date and bring a cop y of your outline for everyone
      5) Submit to me two  copies of your presentation outline: one for a grade, one for my record.
      6) Failure to present on your chosen date will result in a reduct ion of your participation grade by half a letter.
  • Technology: We will frequently use technology in this course as a means of communication.
    • 1) You are required to check your email everyday and to use your SUNY email account.   You may also be asked to submit work electronically.
      2) Failure to check your email (FOR WHATEVER REASON) and failure to consult with the syllabus will adversely affect your participation grade (note that changes will be posted to the course web site).
The final grade will be determined by:
  • Daily class participation   &nb sp;                                    35%

  • (your discussion, note taking, writing in your text, email communication, and presentation)
  • Reading Responses  (in and out of class)  &n bsp;         35%

  • Reading Responses are due after the completion of each text; additional ones may be given.  You may make up a maximum of 1 response during the term.  Low grades and Responses not made up within a week will seriously affect the final grade.
  • Writing Assignments including final                        30%
Scholastic Responsibility
  • Plagiarizing (submitting work that is not your own or failing to document other people's analyses or using their words) or any other form of scholastic dishonesty (cheating) will result in an F in the assignment and possible failure of the course.  Plagiarism happens frequently when students are not prepared, when they are confused or rushed, or when they assume that the professor will not know. But this is a poor assumption.
  • Make sure that you have plenty of time to complete assignments. And please see me during office hours or email me if you have any questions.
  • Document any outside sources, and be sure to distinguish between quotation, paraphrasing, and outright plagiarism.  If you have questions about using a source, use the Writer’s Reference, or use the MLA Style Handbook in the library or by consulting the MLA guidelines at http://w
Format of Work
  • Word process your work with a computer; you are required to have your own disk, to save your work and to print it out upon request.  Hand-written and ill prepared submissions are not acceptable and will be returned with a zero.
  • Double space all hard copies; use 12 point, times font, and 1 inch margins all around.
  • Use the Modern Language Association Style to document outside sources including web pages.
  • Include the following information on all work:

  • Your Name
    The Date
    Dr. Ramirez, SUNY, Oneonta
    Women in Literature
    The Assignment
    It is essential that you make constant back-ups of your work. Misplacing or losing files can be frustrating and it does happen with frequency.  Moreover, computers freeze and power ou tages are not uncommon.  However file problems or any other kind of computer and printing problems will not excuse late work.  Print drafts as a safety measure and save a copy on a NEW disk.
Special Needs
  • If you have special needs or concerns, please see me at the beginning of the semester.  These concerns might include learning disab ilities; sight or hearing problems; dyslexia.
  • ALL personal issues not related to literature should be directed to me DURING OFFICE HOURS or VIA EMAIL.