ES.260 | Spring 2006 | Undergraduate
Women's Novels: A Weekly Book Club


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


This course, as part of the Experimental Study Group Seminar Series, offers students the opportunity to participate in a small discussion-based class taught by an MIT upperclassman under the guidance of a faculty supervisor. Students Faye Kasemset (B.S. 05 Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Literature) and Jocelyn Rodal (B.S. 06 Literature) taught this seminar in cooperation with Dr. Holly Sweet, Lecturer and Associate Director in the Experimental Study Group. Seminars taught in this format are all graded Pass/Fail and receive 1/2 of the academic credit assigned to regular academic classes.

Class Summary

This pass/fail seminar should be a fun setting where we can all enjoy a love of good books together. Students will read around one novel every two weeks (or one a week for the shorter novels). We’ll be reading a wide range of classic and contemporary novels written by women, and we’ll discuss each novel in a relaxed and interactive setting, with attention to whatever themes and problems interest students most about each book. According to student interest, there will also be occasional film showings, as well as field trips to museums and Boston landmarks that are related to these books.

Assignments and Grading

The only requirement for this course is that you read the novels in time for each discussion. This should be a fun and relaxed class, and the readings are meant to be thought-provoking and pleasurable. It is absolutely necessary, however, that students come to class able to discuss that week’s novel and demonstrate that they have done the reading. We reserve the right to require additional writing in exchange for a passing grade if a student misses more than two classes or regularly comes to class unprepared.

We adore these books (would probably drag them with us to a desert island), and we hope you enjoy them too!


1 Set up, Poetry by Margaret Atwood and Sylvia Plath  
2 Toni Morrison: Jazz  
3 Toni Morrison: Jazz (cont.)  
4 Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice  
5 Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice (cont.)  
6 Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway  
7 Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway (cont.) Film: Daldry, Stephen. The Hours. 2002.
8 Edith Wharton: The House of Mirth Trip: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
9 Edith Wharton: The House of Mirth (cont.) Film: Davies, Terence. The House of Mirth. 2000.
10 Sheri Reynolds: The Rapture of Canaan  
11 Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre  
12 Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre (cont.)  
13 Alice Walker: The Color Purple Film: Spielberg, Steven. The Color Purple. 1985.
14 Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar Trip: The Boston Public Gardens

* These events were chosen and voted on by the students. Films were viewed at additional meetings outside of class.