26044 - Feminist Methodology: Interdisciplinary Methods in Women's Studies - Feminist Methodology: Interdisciplinary Methods in Gender and Women's Studies

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Gilberta Golinelli

  • Credits 8

  • SSD L-LIN/10

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language English

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Modern, Post-Colonial and Comparative Literatures (cod. 0981)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The student develops awareness of the diverse methodologies employed in gender and feminist studies in an interdisciplinary perspective.

Course contents

"To ask too much is the way to be denied all” Bathsua Makin (1673).

Women’s voices and Genealogies: the plurality of women’s experience and the practice of Feminist Literary Criticism.

Moving from the debates between second and third wave feminism, the course will investigate some feminist research methods in literary criticism focusing on how feminist and gender studies challenge the major methodologies employed for the interpretation of literary texts written by both men and women. The aim of the course is to provide students with critical tools which enable them to re-read women’s access to knowledge and education, the canon formation and the process of exclusion and inclusion of female writers from and within the literary canon and the public sphere.

The course will be divided into two parts. The first part will introduce students to the main important methodologies in women’s and gender studies with specific reference to the rise of feminist literary criticism and to some manifestos of second and third wave feminism(s) and their temporal rhetoric of ‘awakening’ and ‘space’. In particular, it will explore the debates on canon formation and female genealogy and explain the notion of re-vision, resisting reading and situated knowledge. It will also examine the categories of gender, class, ethnicity, race and sexuality and their interconnection.

The second part of the course will be devoted to the close-reading of some extracts from emblematic literary texts written by women in different historical moments.

These texts which significantly belong to different literary genre, will be explored in order to interrogate how women negotiated their agency in the public sphere, in the print market and in the political, economic and social order. They will be also examined in order to discuss the way in which they resist or perpetuate patriarchy, gender inequality and a heterosexual politic of desire and sexuality. But they will also be interrogated to see how they contributed, together with their interpretation and appropriation across time and space, to place the female self within a specific social order, to define the otherness of race and gender, and to establish relations of power between men and women, but also subjects who become geographically, ethnically and culturally distinct.


Primary texts:

Margaret Cavendish, The Convent of Pleasure, (1668)

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, 1688,

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Turkish Embassy Letters (1716-1717)

M. Shelley, Frankenstein, 1816 (1831)

S. Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915)

Bibliography of Secondary Texts

Baccolini, Raffaella, Vita Fortunati, M. Giulia Fabi, Rita Monticelli Critiche femministe e teorie letterarie, (a cura di) Bologna, Clueb, 1997. (selected essays)

Crisafulli, L. M. and Golinelli, G. (eds Women’s Voices and Genealogies in Literary Studies in English, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, 2019. (Introduction).

Hoeveler, Diane Long, Frankenstein, feminism, and literary theory, in The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley. Ed. Esther Schor. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Ferguson, Margaret W., “Juggling the categories of race, class, and gender: Aphra Behn's Oroonoko”, pp. 209-224, in Hendricks Margo and Patricia Parker (eds.) Women, Race and Writing in the Early Modern Period, London, New York, Routledge, 1994.

Friedman, Susan Stanford, “Locational Feminism: Gender, Cultural Geographies, and Geopolitical Literacy”, available at: http://www.women.it/cyberarchive/files/stanford.htm

Gilbert S. and Gubar S., The Madwoman in the Attic. The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1979 (selected chapters).

Gilberta Golinelli, Gender Models, Alternative Communities and Women's Utopianism. Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn and Mary Astell, Bologna, Bononia University Press, 2018 (Selected chapter)

Haraway, Donna “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective”, Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3. (Autumn, 1988), pp. 575-599.

Kolodney, A .:

-“Some Notes on Defining a Feminist Literary Criticism”, Critical Inquiry n. 2, 1975, pp. 75-92.

-“Dancing Through the Minefield: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism”, in E. Showalter (ed.), The New Feminist Criticism. Essays on Women, Literature and Theory, Virago, London, 1989.

Mellor, Anne K. “Making a “monster”: an introduction to Frankenstein, in The Cambridge Companion to Frankenstein, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 9-25.

Mohanty Chandra Talpade, “Under Western Eyes Feminist Scholarship and colonial Discourse”, in Feminist Review, n 30, 1988, pp. 61-88.

Pacheco A., “Royalism and Honor in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko”, Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, n.3, pp. 491- 506.

Rich, A .:

“When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision”, College English, Vol. 34, No. 1, Women, Writing and Teaching, Oct., 1972, pp. 18-30.

-----------“Notes towards a politics of location” (1984), in Blood, Bread and Poetry. Selected prose 1979-1985, London, New York, Norton Company, 1986, pp. 210-231.

Showalter, E., A Literature of their own: from Charlotte Bronte to Doris Lessing, Virago, London, 1978. “Introduction”.

"Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness", Critical Inquiry, Vol. 8, No. 2, Writing and Sexual Difference, (Winter, 1981), pp. 179- 205.

-------------“Women and the Literary Curriculum”, College English, Vol. 32, 1971, pp. 855-662.

Smith, Barbara, “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism”, The Radical Teacher, No. 7 (March, 1978), pp. 20-27

Walker, Alice “In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: The Creativity of Black Women in the South” (1974).

Woolf, Virginia, A Room of one’s Own, 1929.

Lessons will make reference to the following Bibliography of Secondary texts (essays, articles, volumes). Students will be requested to choose texts/essays/articles from the following list.

NB: Bibliography and other information will be provided during the course (and then published on the online reading list and program). Students are requested to check the online program during the course for further notice and information.

-NB: Other essays/articles may be added during the course:

Teaching methods

The course includes both lessons and seminars with the active participation of the students. Students who cannot attend lessons must contact the lecturer during her office hours, or via e-mail before the end of the course. Students are requested to check the online program also during the course for further notice and information.

Assessment methods

Students are requested to analyse 3 primary texts (to be chosen amongst the 5 texts in the Reading list of the primary sources), articles/essays/chapters from the Reading list of the Secondary sources + A Room of one’s Own, 1929 by V. Woolf.

Active participation + presentation: 35 %.

Final oral exams: 65%

The final oral exam will test the student's knowledge of the methodologies employed and her/his ability to combine theories with the analysis of the primary texts chosen. Students are requested to be able to articulate their thought in English and to have an accurate knowledge of the bibliography chosen for the exam. NB: Students are requested to know the primary texts chosen for the exam in great details.

Those students who are able to demonstrate a wide and systematic understanding of the issues covered during classes, are able to use gender theoretical and methodological tools critically and who master the field-specific language of the discipline will be given a mark of excellence. Those students who demonstrate a mnemonic knowledge of the subject with a more superficial analytical ability and ability to synthesize, a correct command of the language but not always appropriate, will be given a satisfactory mark. A superficial knowledge and understanding of the material, a scarce analytical and expressive ability that is not always appropriate will be rewarded with a ‘pass' mark. Students who demonstrate gaps in their knowledge of the subject matter, inappropriate language use, lack of familiarity with the literature in the program bibliography will not be given a pass mark.

Attendance and class participation will also be assessed as a component of the final overall mark.

Teaching tools

The Powerpoint files that will be used during the course will be available for students on the Insegnamenti Online website: https://iol.unibo.it/ .

Office hours

See the website of Gilberta Golinelli