Sophomore Seminars

The Future Is Feminine

ENGLISH 94Q
FEMGEN 94Q

Gender is one of the great social issues of our time. What does it mean to be female or feminine? How has femininity been defined, performed, punished, or celebrated? Writers are some of our most serious and eloquent investigators of these questions, and in this class we'll read many of our greatest writers on the subject of femininity, as embodied by both men and women, children and adults, protagonists and antagonists. From Virginia Woolf to Ernest Hemingway, from Beloved to Gone Girl (and even "RuPaul's Drag Race"), we'll ask how the feminine is rendered and contested. We'll do so in order to develop a history and a vocabulary of femininity so that we may—in this important time—write our own way in to the conversation. This is first and foremost a creative writing class, and our goals will be to consider in our own work the importance of the feminine—across the entire spectrum of gender, sex, and identity—and how we write about femininity, using other writers as models and inspiration. As we engage with these other writers, we’ll think broadly and bravely, and explore the expressive opportunities inherent in writing. We’ll explore our own creative practices through readings, prompted exercises, improv, games, collaboration, workshop, and revision, all with an eye toward writing the feminine future.
 

Meet the Instructor(s)

Shannon Pufahl

“I grew up on a farm in rural Kansas, where we raised dogs, pigs, and rabbits. I moved to California for graduate school after working as a bartender and freelance writer. As a Ph.D. student at UCDavis I studied early American literature, women's writing, and animal studies. I came to Stanford as a Stegner Fellow in Fiction, where I wrote a novel about gambling and queer history, called On Swift Horses, now forthcoming from Riverhead Books.  As a Jones Lecturer in the Creative Writing Program I teach classes in all genres and on a variety of themes, including Queer Stories, Form and Transformation, and Storytelling in the Arts.  My wife and I have a brilliant dog—a terrier mix named Fig—who loves cruciferous vegetables, the ocean, and naps.”