Sophomore Seminars

Reading and Writing the Gendered Story


Space Available

This course has space available. An application is not required for this seminar.

See more courses with space available

Enroll in Axess

Please note: FEMGEN153Q (Write 2) is full and closed to enrollment in Axess. However, there is space on the waitlist for eligible Sophomores who have completed PWR1/WR1. Write to Prof. Miner to be added to the waitlist.
Completion of PWR 1 or other WR 1 course.

We will explore novels, stories, memoirs and micronarratives in which gender plays a major role. The texts are by writers of varied genders and sexual orientations as well as diverse class, racial and national backgrounds. Written assignments present a mixture of academic and creative options. Students will write essay seminar presentations, term project strategies, revision plans, original narratives (creative writing), final projects, etc. Students will use such tools as close reading, research, analysis, and imagination. The learning goals include a serious exploration of individual students' creativity, a more nuanced appreciation of diverse literatures and a stronger understanding of the multifaceted nature of gender, race and class. Students will develop their abilities to write well-argued papers. They will stretch their imaginations in the creative writing assignments. And they will grow more confident as public speakers and seminar participants.

This course fulfills the second-level Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (WRITE 2) and emphasizes oral and written presentation. The course carries two WAYS accreditations, AESTHETIC AND INTERPRETIVE INQUIRY and ENGAGING DIVERSITY


Building Community While Working Together Online

Class Time: We’ll meet from 2:30pm to 3:10pm,  Take a five minute break (to stretch, make a cup of tea, etc.).  We return to a synchronous class from at 3:15pm. It would be ideal if students could leave half an hour after 4:20pm for meeting with the professor and asynchronous learning.

Class Lunch and Book Discussion: Students will meet for lunch with Professor during the third week of the class. We’ll meet informally for an hour. To kick off the lunch conversation, each student will recommend a book by a woman author not being discussed in class. We’ll put together a bibliography of student recommendations.

Editorial Partnerships: Each student should choose one editorial partner in the class. You’ll be asked to share all your own written work with your partner every week during the term (by phone, Zoom, etc or, if safe, in person). Editorial partners will be particularly helpful with reading drafts of discussion papers, seminar presentations and term papers. Do have your editorial partner proofread your papers, especially your final one, before submission.

Essay Seminar Partnerships: Students will sign up to write a three-page paper about the writer/book of their choice. Typically, two people will work on the same writer/book and they will decide together which sections of the book and which aspects about the author they will cover. They will each introduce the visiting author when appropriate.

Self-Evaluation and Writing Week: Class will be asynchronous during week 6. We will not meet as a large group. Students will meet with their editorial partners for an hour to discuss plans for term project. Each student will also meet with Professor to discuss their progress during the term. We’ll talk about successes as well as areas where students would like to improve. The idea is to make the most of the rest of the quarter. The rest of the “class time” is for each student to use as they want for their term projects (writing, researching, reading, etc.)

Sharing Student Work: In addition to regular exchanges with editorial partners, students will have a chance to share one essay seminar presentations with the whole class and two discussion papers with the whole class. All students will share their term projects with the whole class.We will end with three Editorial Boards during which each student will get feedback from everyone. These term projects are the highlight of the class and serve as the last class text.

Office Hours: Students are welcome to come in small groups or individually.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Valerie Miner

Valerie Miner is an award-winning author of 15 books. Her latest book, Bread and Salt, is coming out in Fall, 2020.  Her novels include, Traveling with Spirits After EdenRange of LightA Walking FireWinter's EdgeBlood SistersAll Good WomenMovement: A Novel in Stories, and Murder in the English Department. Her short fiction books include Abundant LightThe Night Singers, and Trespassing. Her collection of essays is Rumors from the Cauldron: Selected Essays, Reviews and Reportage. The Low Road: A Scottish Family Memoir was a Finalist for the PEN USA Creative Non-Fiction Award. Abundant Light was a fiction finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards.

Valerie Miner's work has appeared in The Georgia ReviewTriquarterlySalmagundiNew LettersPloughsharesThe Village VoicePrairie SchoonerGettysburg ReviewThe T.L.S.The Women's Review of BooksThe Nation, and other journals. Her stories and essays are published in more than 60 anthologies. A number of her pieces have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her work has been translated into German, Turkish, Danish, Italian, Spanish, French, Swedish, and Dutch. In addition to single-authored projects, she has collaborated on books and museum exhibits, as well as theatre.

She has won fellowships and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, Fondazione Bogliasco, Fundación Valparaiso, the McKnight Foundation, the NEA, the Jerome Foundation, the Heinz Foundation, the Australia Council Literary Arts Board, and numerous other sources. She has received Fulbright Fellowships to India, Tunisia, Indonesia, and Spain.

Winner of a Distinguished Teaching Award, she has taught for over 25 years and is now a professor and artist-in-residence at Stanford University. She travels internationally giving readings, lectures, and workshops. She and her partner live in San Francisco and Mendocino County, Calif. Her website is