Charles Explorer logo

Anglo-American Modernist Women Authors

Class at Faculty of Arts |

This text is not available in the current language. Showing version "cs".Syllabus


Week 1

Introduction to modernism

Reading: Virginia Woolf – essays “Modern Fiction,” “Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown,” “Character in Fiction”

Week 2

Virginia Woolf’s short fiction

Reading: Virginia Woolf – short stories “Kew Gardens,” “The Mark on the Wall,” “Solid Objects,” “The Death of the Moth”

Week 3

Virginia Woolf’s elegy

Reading: Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse

Week 4

Virginia Woolf’s feminism

Reading: Virginia Woolf - A Room of One’s Own, “Professions for Women”

Week 5

Virginia Woolf and the limits of the novel

Reading: Virginia Woolf - The Waves

Week 6

Jean Rhys and women living on the margin of society

Reading: Jean Rhys - Good Morning, Midnight

Week 7

Katherine Mansfield’s short fiction

Reading: Katherine Mansfield - “Mr Reginald Peacock’s Day,” “Something Childish but Very Natural,” “Psychology,” “The Fly”

Week 8

Djuna Barnes’s short fiction

Reading: Djuna Barnes - “Mother,” “A Night Among the Horses,” “Aller et Retour,” “Little Girl Tells a Story to a Lady,” “The Passion”

Week 9

Gertrude Stein’s “non-representational” poetry

Reading: Gertrude Stein - Tender Buttons, “Composition as Explanation”

Week 10

Poems of Mina Loy and Nancy Cunard - feminism and racial justice

Reading: Mina Loy - poems “The Effectual Marriage,” “Gertrude Stein,” “Joyce’s Ulysses,” “Human Cylinders”, essays “Aphorisms on Futurism” and “Modern Poetry”

               Nancy Cunard - poems “Wheels,” “The Carnival of Peace,” “Voyages North,” pamphlet “Black Man and White Ladyship,” essay “Harlem Reviewed”

Week 11

Zelda Fitzgerald’s semi-autobiographical fiction

Reading: Zelda Fitzgerald – novel Save Me the Waltz

Week 12

Flannery O’Connor – Southern Gothic and American late modernism

Reading: Flannery O’Connor – short stories “The Displaced Person,” “The Artificial Nigger,” “Good Country People,” “The River”


This course introduces both Anglo-American modernism as a distinct literary movement and modernist women authors whose fiction or poems not only manifest modernist innovative narrative or poetic techniques but also foreground feminist issues. With the aid of Virginia Woolf’s theoretical essays “Modern Fiction” and “Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown,” short fiction and two of her most-acclaimed novels, To the Lighthouse and The Waves, the course outlines the main features of literary modernism. Moreover, it provides an introduction into the “first-wave” feminism by examining Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own, one of the key feminist texts where Woolf discusses women’s inappropriate socioeconomical conditions for pursuing a literary career and deals with what Hélène Cixous later defines as “écriture feminine.” This prepares the ground for the discussion of other modernist feminist authors such as Katherine Mansfield, Jean Rhys, Djuna Barnes, Zelda Fitzgerald or Flannery O’Connor, who attempt to step out of the shadow of the Victorian “angel in the house” and redefine the concept of femininity. In addition to this, these authors’ short stories or novels may be read in dialogue with Woolf’s fiction as they address very similar topics – the nature of life and reality, human relation to nature, living on the margin of society, women’s position in patriarchal society or mental health issues. Although the core of the course is Anglo-American modernist women authors’ prose, it also addresses women poets such as Gertrude Stein, Nancy Cunard or Mina Loy. It will be shown that these authors may be read in relation to “postmodern” feminism which rejects the superiority of the centre, focuses on the diversity of experience and conceives of the universe as multiplicity of interrelated entities.

The course is taught in English.

Study programmes