ENGL 1260 Introduction to Women’s Literature

About the Course

This course introduces literature by women in England and America. Covers both poetry and fiction and varying historical periods. Acquaints students with the contribution of women writers to the English literary tradition and investigates the nature of this contribution. Same as WMST 1260. Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: human diversity.

This course begins by asking the question “What is Women’s Literature?” and proceeds through a variety of readings in an attempt to expose you to the gamut of women’s lives and concerns as represented in literature. Over the course of this class, you will familiarize yourself with the writing of women from a variety of genres (poetry, fiction & nonfiction), and will examine how these works voice similar or differing concerns depending on the writers’ race, class, and sexual orientation. This class will also examine the changing perspectives (or not) of women writers from the 19th century to present day. To this end, you will be reading selections focused around a theme or idea represented in women’s literature from different historical periods.


  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to define women’s literature and appreciate its place in the canon.
  2. Students will be expected to demonstrate understanding of course concepts and themes, such as ideas regarding different kinds of place, landscape, identity, silence etc.
  3. Students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to analyze literature and write proficient argumentative analytic essays.
  4. Students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to properly cite texts using MLA guidelines.

Grade Breakdown

1. Analytic Response Papers (2-3 pages, or 300-600 words) – 33.3% of Final Grade

The guidelines for these critical responses are in the syllabus.

2. Final Project – 33.3% of Final Grade – For the final project, you will investigate some form of women’s art (novel & literary reading, play & performance, or dance, or film) and write a report which both reviews the work and examines how its thematic concerns compare to some of the concerns focused on over the course of the class. All project proposals must be submitted in writing and approved by me (See unit 6). The final project is 8-10 pages in length.

3. Other Course Requirements – 33.3% of Final Grade
(Unit Questions, Formal Final Project Proposal, Informal Responses)

Required Text

  1. The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, The Traditions in English, 3rd Edition edited by Gilbert & Gubar ( 2007, 2 volume set).
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton
  • ISBN 978-0-393-93015-3
  1. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (May 30, 2006)
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
  • ISBN: 978-0061120060

Recommended Texts:

  1. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition. (March 9, 2009)
  • Publisher: Modern Language Association of America
  • ISBN: 978-1603290241

Instructor Contact

I received my PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and have been teaching literature and writing for over 18 years. I also have a MA and BA from the University of Colorado Boulder. Currently, I teach film and literature at CU and writing at Front Range. My students tend to think I’m tough, but enthusiastic and passionate about literature and writing and they like the energy I bring to the material. My work has won several teaching awards.

I am also a published poet, essayist and fiction writer, and a lifelong westerner with an interest in landscape and place. My specialties include Literature of the American West and American Indian Literature. Finally, I’m the former Editor-in-Chief of The Cream City Review, and I live in a little cabin in the woods above Jamestown.

Email: Karen.Auvinen@colorado.edu

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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado