Reading Feminist Texts

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS2028072

Semester and Year Offered: 1st Semester

Course Coordinator and Team: Shubhra Nagalia

Email of course coordinator: shubhra[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in


Course Outcomes:

The course ‘Reading Feminist Text’ takes on the burden of questions such as ‘What constitutes a text?’ ‘Is there a ‘feminist’ text? If there is then what makes a text feminist? ‘Does ‘reading’ also constitute a text?’ The focus of the course is on opening up the possibility of a ‘feminist text.’ Can the writing of a text can be specifically feminist? Can you read a text like a feminist?

The course is structured in three parts. First, the readings take up the historical legacy of feminist challenge to textual traditions to expose the misogyny and in this process they have attempted to outline what would constitute writing and reading a ‘feminist text.’ This struggle against patriarchal ordering of all knowledge production was to shore up a feminist political subjectivity that would imagine a gender just and a better world.

The second part takes on texts that critique the universality of the feminist political subject that was predicated on the figure of the dominant socially privileged woman that aimed to ‘include’ those that were outside this ‘centre.’ Black, working class, Dalit, LGBTQ and other powerful articulations question how ‘feminist’ are such political projects of women standing up against patriarchy in a world rife with deeply embedded violence and inequalities.

The third takes on the tensions revealed in these engagements and attempts to ask how feasible the idea of a feminist text and subjectivity is if the very grounds of ‘feminism’ are nullified by challenges from positions of marginality that demand inclusion not so they are added on but to transform the very idea of what constitutes a ‘feminist?’ What text can then wear the mantle of a ‘feminist text?’ Or is that the wrong question to ask in the first place?

The course opens up the possibility of keeping open the constitutive textures of ‘feminist’ itself. Not by casting everything into the basket of relativity but rather by constantly decentring any and all desires to occupy the subject position of the ’universal gender.’

Theme 1

Essential Readings (in discussion format)

  • Tharu Susie and Lalita K (1991), Women Writing in India. Volume I: 600 B.C. to the Early Twentieth Century, The Feminist Press at The City University of New York, New York, Introduction, pp 1-37.
  • Toril Moi (1989), ‘Feminist, Female, Feminine’ in The Feminist Reader. Essays in Gender and the Politics of Literary Criticism, (eds.) Catherine Belsey and Jane Moore, Basil Blackwell, New York.
  • Menon Nivedita (2012), Seeing Like a Feminist, Zubaan in collaboration with Penguin Books, New Delhi, Introduction and Selections
  • Elaine Showalter (1977), A Literature of Their Own. British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, ‘The Female Tradition’ pp 3-36.
  • Diana Fuss (1989), Essentially Speaking. Feminism, Nature & Difference, Routledge, New York, Reading like a Feminist, pp 23-37.

Theme 2

Essential Readings (in discussion format)

Theme 3

Recommended Readings


  • A 1: 50% (Reflection essay based on self-chosen images/texts)
  • A 2: 50% (Written End Semester exam)