Female Biography, Novels, Memoirs: Are Women’s Truths in Their “Fictions”?

Schools of Public Engagement: Humanities

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

Female Biography

Spring 2022

Taught By: Gina Walker

Section: A

CRN: 10908

Credits: 3

We examine women's biographies and autobiographies, from the ancients to the present, to examine how female lives are written, by whom, and for what purposes. We consider new feminist commentary about the “silencing” of queens from post-Biblical times. We review historical interpretations of Plato's brief portrait of his teacher Diotima in the Symposium; canonical accounts of women by Ovid and Plutarch; the prison diary of early Christian martyr, Vibia Perpetua; medieval hagiographies of Hildegard of Bingen; and the 15th-century "confession" of Christine de Pizan, in which she imagines a subversive "City of Ladies." We turn to the barely veiled autobiographical writings of early modern women like the poet Anne Askew, burned as a heretic in 1546; the 17th-century author and scientist Margaret Cavendish; and the political theorist Mary Wollstonecraft, best known for her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). In Mary Hays's groundbreaking Female Biography (1803), we see how women's reputations have been determined, in part, by their compliance with or resistance to sexual norms. In Victorian texts, we observe efforts to codify gender behavior through biography that is countered by female resistance. We conclude with recent biographies by and about women that reveal the distinctive qualities of "female biography" as part of the struggle to secure the rights of women to public, as well as, private lives.

College: Schools of Public Engagement (NS)

Department: Humanities (NHUM)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: Online - Asynchronous

Max Enrollment: 21

Add/Drop Deadline: February 6, 2022 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 17, 2022 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 5:42pm 9/27/2022 EDT

Meeting Info:

Building: Online Course

Room: 999

Date Range: 1/24/2022 - 5/16/2022