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Unit information: Eighteenth-Century Women's Writing in 2023/24

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Eighteenth-Century Women's Writing
Unit code ENGL20031
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Batt
Open unit status Not open
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School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Unit Information

On this unit we will explore writing by women in the long eighteenth century (c. 1680-1800). Considering the poetry, drama, and prose of writers such as Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Mary Wollstonecraft, we will examine women's literary responses to a range of pressing public and personal subjects, including friendship; love, sex and marriage; the female body; education; politics; class; and slavery. We will be concerned with exploring the place of women writers in literary history: what did female authors write about, and who were they writing for? Is there such a thing as 'women's writing'? In what ways did women writers contribute to the rise of the novel, how successful were they in writing for the stage, how influential was their verse, and what impact did their writing have on political debates? And finally, how have critics from Virginia Woolf onwards understood eighteenth-century women's writing?

Your learning on this unit

On successful completion of this unit students will have

(1) developed a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of eighteenth-century women’s writing;

(2) in-depth knowledge of some of the critical approaches that have been taken to women’s writing in this period;

(3) demonstrated the ability to analyse and evaluate differing critical accounts of the primary literature;

(4) demonstrated the ability to identify and evaluate pertinent evidence in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument;

(5) strengthened their skills in argumentation and academic writing.

How you will learn

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

How you will be assessed

  • 1 x 3000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. ENGL20031).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.