Skip to main content

Unit information: Twentieth-Century Women Writers in 2021/22

Unit name Twentieth-Century Women Writers
Unit code ENGL30105
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Hester Jones
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This course explores a range of work from 20th-century women poets, novelists, essayists, and theorists. The 20th century marked an enormous transformation in women’s lives—from access to education and birth-control, to political enfranchisement and sexual liberation. However, women’s experiences, and thus the texts that women produced, varied tremendously depending on each author’s race, class, and nationality, as well as the political and publishing climate of a given historical moment. Some of the works we will read were famous in their own time but fell out of print—lost for decades, only to be recovered by later generations of women writers. This inter-generational recuperation is a vital aspect of 20th-century women’s literature. The attention to the lost, buried, or silenced 'mother' helps makes the study of women’s literature unique, not only as a literary history, but as a foundation for feminist theory and gender studies. We will think about the relationship between writer and theorist, considering how many of the prominent authors we read have produced some of the most important feminist theories for analyzing women’s writing. Like the authors themselves, we will be attuned to both the formal aspects of the texts we read, as well as the theoretical, historical, and political forces that shaped their production.

The aims of this course are to enable students:

  • to become familiar with a wide range of twentieth-century writing by women
  • to explore a range of genres, for example, autobiography, utopian fiction
  • to become familiar with critical responses, feminist and other, to such writing
  • to think critically about the concept of 'women's writing'

Students will be given the opportunity to submit a draft or outline of their final, summative essay of up to 1,500 words and to receive feedback on this.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have

(1) developed a detailed knowledge of a range of literary texts by women writing in the twentieth century;

(2) developed a critical understanding of the historical, political and literary contexts around the primary texts;

(3) acquired an understanding of major critical approaches to analysing twentieth-century women’s writing;

(4) demonstrated their ability to analyse and compare primary texts and critical sources;

(5) strengthened their skills in academic writing, argumentation, and evaluation of evidence from primary texts and critical literature.

Teaching details

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 3500 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. ENGL30105).