Contemporary Wild Women

“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”

—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“It's not a woman's job to get smaller and smaller and take up less space until she disappears so the world can be more comfortable.”

—Glennon Doyle Melton

“For me, the process of embodying confidence was less about convincing myself of my own worth and more about rejecting and unlearning what society had hammered into me.”

—Lindy West

“The higher you go, the fewer women there are.” 

—Wangari Maathai

What does it mean to be woman, and moreover, what does it mean to be a woman in the context of contemporary America? This course is a study of contemporary literary and visual texts by prominent women writers whose work examines and engages questions of feminine identity, feminine issues, and the contemporary female experience. As such, all assigned texts will be works published, produced, or otherwise conceived within the past five years, with many released in these past twelve months. Through close reading and analysis, students will discuss and explore the ways contemporary women are shaped through society, culture, and our intersectional identities, and how these identities—including class, race, age, size, aestheticism, and sexual orientation—inherently form and influence feminist discourse. The writers, artists, and activists we’ll study over the duration of the semester include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Claudia Rankine, Roxane Gay, Cheryl Strayed, Alison Bechdel, Lidia Yuknavitch, Claire Vaye Watkins, Leslie Jamison, Rebecca Solnit, Kerry Howley, Kate Bolick, Rebecca Traister, Geneva Reed-Vea, Blair Braverman, Kelly Sundberg, Ariel Levy, Lindy West, Ashley Graham, Monica Lewinsky, Sarah Viren, Rachel Yoder, Rupi Kaur, and Beyoncé. This class aims to educate and increase social awareness of feminist issues in all students and, above all, prepare students to be active and contributing citizens within their local, national, and global communities.

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