4 Credit Hours
As the popular TV show DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES recently wrapped up its final season, and as reality television's REAL HOUSEWIVES franchise stakes its claim on more and more locations, the housewife phenomenon provokes some substantive questions about where housewives fit into our "post-feminist world." Is a housewife a symbol of social status, privilege, and perfection? Do women still aspire towards a domestic ideal? Is it realistic or obtainable? Do current notions of "housewife" challenge our perception of motherhood, marriage, and social conventions? Is it still a gender exclusive term? And what makes them so desperate? This course seeks to examine some of literature's "desperate housewives" (complicated female characters in domestic settings) and asks why they respond to their circumstances in the manner they do. We will explore why so many depictions of housewives are indeed profoundly desperate--deeply troubled by boredom, isolation, infidelity, and emptiness-and examine the literary construction of "housewife" in and among various works. Possible texts may include Gustave Flaubert's MADAME BOVARY, Henrik Ibsen's HEDDA GABLER and/or A DOLL'S HOUSE, Jane Austen's NORTHANGER ABBEY, Kate Chopin's THE AWAKENING, Nella Larsen's PASSING, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's THE GREAT GATSBY. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. Prerequisite: ENGL 121.