Women in Literature

Discipline: English Literature
Instructor: Springfield
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1555
End: 1710
Field Work: Day 3 | Brazil Download Syllabus

The Caribbean region is defined by a history of conquest and colonialism, slavery, racial and cultural admixture. It is a place where natural disasters wipe out national economies, structural unemployment and underemployment plague the most resourceful workers, and sustained dependency on U.S. and global conglomerates threatens the survival of local industries and agricultural producers. Marked by interregional, hemispheric, and cross-oceanic migration, it is a site of permeable boundaries and multiple identities, offering continuous redefinition of the self and of one’s relationship to society.
Women in Literature examines how changes in the international labor force and political activism have led women to redefine their domestic roles and challenge traditional societal norms. The course examines identity–often ambulatory, transnational, and defined by shifting states of interdependency–as people seek or are forced to seek work in other lands. Women in Literature thus focuses on the ways in which women reconstitute networks of relatives and friends in exile communities while maintaining strong ties to their families at home. An interdisciplinary course, it investigates the interplay of race and gender in the construction of national cultures and literary responses to the impact of economic practices on women’s lives.
The course is informed by critical essays on the nature of Caribbean feminism(s) and women’s literature as they capture and combat historical processes. It will analyze women’s contemporary history in Haiti, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and diaspora communities in the U.S. It will also explore how women create cultures in opposition to traditional, constraining ones, and seek wholeness in new, communities.

Field Work

Country: Brazil
Day: 3

This field trip focuses on female religious figures and the blending of Catholic and West African religions inBrazil.  We will explore female deities as an Africanized expansion of the idea of the Virgin Mary.  Students will grasp an understanding of a broad landscape of contemporary religious syncretism inRio de Janeiro.  We will visit churches containing images of Nossa Senhora Aparecida, a black Virgin Mary and Brazil’s patron saint as well as candomblé services, illustrating the blending of Yoruba and Catholic elements.