Women's Studies 391W: Writing for Women's Studies Majors
Fall 2000

Instructor: Michelle Paranto
MWF 10:10-11:00 Dickinson 216
Office Hours: MW 11:15-12:30


In this course we will be exploring our identities as writers inside and outside of the classroom. We will begin by questioning the purposes for writing. Why do we write? What role does written language serve in the construction of our gendered identities? We will then move toward investigating the variety of written genres offered by women authors. We will take on the identity of cultural reviewers and critique an aspect of our world and the societies we live in today. Finally, we will thoroughly embed ourselves in academic literacy and examine the process for writing as researchers. Informed by a multitude of women writers across history and cultures, we will reflect on and utilize the power of language and its abilities to create personal, social and political change.


Hacker, Diana. A Writer's Reference 4th Edition. Boston: St. Martin's, 1999.
Heilbrun, Carolyn. Writing A Woman's Life. NY: Ballantine, 1988.

Course Reader

COURSE REQUIREMENTS (More details will follow)

Written Assignments

Autobiographical Essay
This essay is an opportunity to explore how you identify yourself as a writer. Beginning with in-class interviews you will then look at your experiences with writing from the past to the present. How do you use writing in your daily life? How does what you write define you as a person? What aspects of your identity shape your written literacy? These questions and many others will shape this autobiographical essay.

Creative Essay
The topic, genre, form and style for this assignment are open to your own creativity. We will be reading a variety of creative writing to awaken the muse. This piece of writing is limited only by your imagination.

Cultural Review
The cultural review will analyze and critique an aspect of our cultures from a feminist point of view. You may examine a text, a practice, a politics or any cultural product worthy of criticism.

Research Project
Your Research Project may focus on any topic relevant to the field of Women's Studies. The Project will be broken into three writing assignments: an abstract, annotated bibliography and final essay. After beginning your research, you will write an abstract introducing and outlining the topic of your project. The annotated bibliography will be the written compilation of your scholarly sources. The final essay will present your topic, your arguments based on the research in the field and conclude with pointing to areas of future research related to your topic.

Each of you will be keeping a journal during the semester. The journal is for free-writing, informal writing assignments, personal writing and responses to the class discussions and course readings. Please feel free to use this journal in any way that you feel will benefit you in this course. Each of you should write a minimum on one page per week. The journal will be included in your written portfolio at the end of the semester.

Writing Workshops
Writing Workshops will be held in class and focused on peer review and editing of written assignments. Attendance to each workshop is mandatory. Each of you will be responsible for reading, discussing and commenting on your workshop members' writing. Writing Workshops allow us the opportunity to learn from each other's writing and grow as a community of writers.

I will be scheduling conferences with each of you during Week 9 and Week 10 to discuss your writing and your progress in the course. These conferences will also give us the chance to begin thinking about possibilities for your Research Project. During those weeks there will be no class on Wednesday.

Writing Portfolios
Your Writing Portfolio will contain all of the writing you have done over the course of the semester including all drafts and peer response. The Writing Portfolio will also include your Research Project and your journal. You will hand in the Writing Portfolio on the last day of class for a final grade. All work will be returned to you.


Participation and Attendance
Please prepare for all classes in advance and come ready to join fully in class discussions and writing workshops. Three absences are allowed during the semester. All unexcused absences beyond the initial three will result in a final course grade reduction of half a letter grade per absence. Students who miss more than 6 classes during the semester will fail the course.

Academic Honesty
The Undergraduate Rights & Responsibilities distributed by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and the Provost states: "Intellectual honesty requires that students demonstrate their own learning during examinations and other academic exercises, and that other sources of information or knowledge be appropriately credited. Scholarship depends upon the reliability of information and reference in the work of others. No form of cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating of dishonesty will be condoned by the University community" (32).


Week 1 - Why Write?
Wednesday, Sept. 6

  • Introduce ourselves, discuss syllabus
    Friday, Sept. 8
  • Lorde, "Transformation,"
  • Allison "To Tell the Truth"

    Week 2 - Let's Begin
    Monday, Sept. 11

  • Lamott, "Shitty First Drafts," "Perfectionism,"
  • Goldberg, "The Rules of Writing Practice"
    Wednesday, Sept. 13
  • In-class interviews
    Friday, Sept. 15
  • DUE: Written Interviews
  • Introduce Autobiographical Essay

    Week 3 - Writing a Woman's Life
    Monday, Sept. 18

  • Heilbrun, Introduction
    Wednesday, Sept. 20
  • Heilbrun, Chapters 1-2
  • DUE: First Draft Autobiographical Essay
    Friday, Sept. 22
  • Writing Workshop #1

    Week 4 - Writing a Woman's Life
    Monday, Sept. 25

  • Heilbrun, Chapters 3-4
    Wednesday, Sept. 27
  • Heilbrun, Chapters 5-7
    Friday, Sept. 29
  • DUE: Final Draft Autobiographical Essay
  • Introduce Creative Writing Assignment

    Week 5 - The Poet Storyteller
    Monday, Oct. 2

  • Anzaldua, "To Tame," Harjo, "I Give You Back,"
  • Jordan, "A Poem," Rich, "Diving," Mary Oliver
    Wednesday, Oct. 4
  • Lorde, "Poetry is Not a Luxury"
  • DUE: First Draft Creative Writing
    Friday, Oct. 6
  • Writing Workshop #2

    Week 6 - Silencing
    Monday, Oct. 9
    University Holiday - NO CLASS
    Wednesday, Oct. 11

  • Kincaid, "Girl,"
  • Kingston, excerpt from Woman Warrior
  • Russ, "Epilogue," Oliver, "Rage"
    Friday, Oct. 13
  • DUE: Final Draft Creative Writing
  • Introduce Cultural Review Article

    Week 7 - The Sound of Our Cultures
    Monday, Oct. 16

  • Goldman, "Marriage and Love,"
  • Woolf, Chapter 3, A Room
  • McDaniel, "Taking Risks," Walker, "A Letter"
    Wednesday, Oct. 18
  • DUE: First Draft Cultural Review
    Friday, Oct. 20
  • WritingWorkshop #3

    Week 8 - Re-Visioning
    Monday, Oct. 23

  • Atwood, "Review of Diving,"
  • Walker, "You Have All Seen"
    Wednesday, Oct. 25
  • DUE: Final Draft Cultural Review
    Friday, Oct. 27
  • Anzaldua, "Speaking In Tongues," Rich, "When We Dead"
  • Introduce Research Project

    Week 9 - Academic Literacy
    Monday, Oct. 3

  • Lu, "From Silence," Rich, "Taking Women Students"
    Wednesday, Nov. 1
    Friday, Nov. 3
  • Library Research Session-Meet in Reference Section

    Week 10 - Academic Literacy
    Monday, Nov. 6

  • Cliff, "A Journey," Zamel, "Questioning"
  • Introduce Abstract
    Wednesday, Nov. 8
    Friday, Nov. 10
  • Library Research Session-Meet in Reference Section

    Week 11 - Being Heard
    Monday, Nov. 13

  • Olsen, "Silences," Brady & Hernandez, "Feminist"
    Wednesday, Nov. 15
  • DUE: First Draft Abstract (2-3 pages)
    Friday, Nov. 17
  • Writing Workshop #4

    Week 12 - Writing As An Academic
    Monday, Nov. 20

  • Clark & Ivanic, Chapter 6, The Politics of Writing
    Wednesday, Nov. 22
  • DUE: Final Draft Abstract (3 pages)
  • Introduce Annotated Bibliography
    Friday, Nov. 24
  • NO CLASS-University Holiday

    Week 13 - Writing As An Academic
    Monday, Nov. 27

  • Hooks, "Sisterhood," Scott, "Deconstructing"
    Wednesday, Nov. 29
  • DUE: Annotated Bibliography (10 sources)
    Friday, Dec. 1
  • Writing Workshop #5

    Week 14 - Why Write?
    Monday, Dec. 4

  • Lamott, "Last Class"
    Wednesday, Dec. 6
  • DUE: First Draft Research Project
    Friday, Dec. 8
  • Writing Workshop #6

    Week 15 - Last Class
    Monday, Dec. 11

  • DUE: 2nd Draft Research Project
  • Writing Workshop #7

    Wednesday, Dec. 13

  • DUE: Final Draft Research Project