Effective Date of this Description/Syllabus: Fall 2010

Prepared by: Dr. Rhonda Wilcox

Office: Fine Arts 202

Phone: (678)359-5296

email: rhonda_w@gordonstate.edu

Fall Office hours: TR 12:45-1:45, 3-4; W 10-2




Course Designation: Colloquium 2994H (Honors)

Section A

Course Title: Feminism and Fantasy

Class hours per week: 2

Credit hours: 2

Division offering course: Humanities

Prerequisite for the course: Honors status or permission of the instructor


Course description for college bulletin: Humanities Colloquium: A colloquium on selected topics in the humanities emphasizing the development of critical thinking skills.

Course description for college schedule: This course will explore the questions “What is feminism?” and “What is fantasy?” We will discuss a variety of critical theories and evaluate a variety of works, from Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea world to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. The class will be gender-friendly .



Teacher’s Course objectives:

To explore definitions of feminism and fantasy; to examine a variety of texts and evaluate them in terms of whether or not they constitute representations of feminism and/or representations of fantasy; to evaluate the texts in terms of their aesthetic qualities as well as their social and psychological perceptiveness; to heighten awareness of the pervasiveness of the issues implied by these texts.

The overall purpose is to learn from each other (teacher and students alike), to enjoy the art that we encounter this semester, and to propel ourselves to further exploration after the course is ended.


If you need academic accommodations for a disability, you must first see Dr. Kristina Henderson, Student Counselor, in the Student Center (second floor). Her telephone number is 678 359-5585.

Course Content:

Students will read selected novels, view selected television episodes, and engage in discussion.

Required Texts:

The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. Le Guin. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970; rpt. 2004. ISBN 1416509623

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. New York: Penguin, 1969; rpt. 2000. ISBN 0441007317

Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy. New York: Random, 1976; rpt. 1983. ISBN 0449210820

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman. New York: Knopf, 1995; rpt. 2007. ISBN 9780375847226

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, by Joss Whedon et al. (selected episodes which may be rented or downloaded); 1997-2003.

Fledgling, by Octavia Butler. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005. ISBN 1583226907

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. New York: Little, Brown, 2006. ISBN 0316015849

Using the editions provided by the bookstore will facilitate discussion (when we turn to a particular page).


Grading:               Participation (including attendance, quizzes, and other work)                                                   20%

Midterm Exam:                                                                                                                                   20%

Short paper (800 words or more, typed)                                                                                         20%

Honors project (oral presentation required)                                                                                   20%

Final Exam:                                                                                                                                          20%



Standards: A=90-100, B=80-89, C=70-79, D=60-69


Attendance policy: The word colloquium refers to the idea of conversation. Class participation is essential to a colloquium, as the percentage of the grade accorded it above would suggest. You will find that experiencing a group’s reaction to a piece of writing is something that cannot be recreated through merely reading class notes. Furthermore, specific in-class activities will be used to help establish your participation grade, and in most cases these activities must be carried out during a particular class period. I do understand that some absences are unavoidable; if you must miss a class, let me know beforehand if you can (or leave a phone or email message even during class if need be); ask me or a classmate about assignments so you can prepare in case there is a pop quiz when you return to class. If you miss more than four classes you should not expect to pass the class. My home phone number is (404)373-5328. If you cannot contact me or a classmate, then read the next assignment listed on the syllabus. If you are in class, you will be expected to take the quiz. I hope you will find that you do not want to miss this class.

Cell phones, Blackberries, and other electronic devices: So that we can make the best use of our limited time together, turn off your cell phones and any other electronic devices before class begins. Exception: Emergency personnel may leave theirs on and slip out of class to take phone calls in the hall when necessary. If you have a job as an EMT (or similar work), notify me during the first week of classes and be sure to sit near the door. Also, if you have some other sort of emergency situation for which you wish to stay in cell phone contact, speak to me about the problem before the relevant class period in order to be granted an exception. All students should remember that they will receive a class participation grade, and cell phone interruptions disturb discussion.

Honors Project:

                Your honors project should be developed over the course of most of the term. You are required to have at least one planning conference with me and are welcome to have more. You may, if you wish, write a term paper on any of a variety of subjects: there is a considerable body of written scholarship on some of those we will be studying (such as Le Guin and Whedon), and you could, for example, discuss the work’s themes, characters, or structure. You may also, if you wish, plan another type of project that demonstrates thoughtful exploration of the subject. For example, you could yourself write a piece of fiction that emulates qualities of one of the authors in terms of style, setting, character, themes, and/or narrative structure; you could even write an extra chapter for one of the books, if you like. You could attempt a set of lyrics on the subject of one of the characters or themes. You could do an audience study, devising a set of questions on matters important to you and surveying and videotaping responses of various readers and/or viewers. You could read an extra book and write a short paper evaluating it as feminism and/or fantasy. You could provide a set of illustrations, writing a commentary to explain your choices (Why this color palette? Why this texture? Why this composition?). One or more of you could write a short play and others could perform it. You have great freedom in shaping your project. You may wish to work in your own discipline and develop strengths in your own area (e.g. art or drama). Start thinking now, and talk to me about your thoughts soon. Especially if you feel a bit lost, talk to me soon. After we bounce ideas around, you should be able to come up with a plan for something you would be happy to share with others. Then you can slowly develop it throughout the semester. It is a normal part of the process for there to be false starts and re-starts as you search your way forward, whether in a strictly academic or creative project. Give yourself time to think it through and play around with the possibilities.








Week 1: 8/17-19  Introduction: general history of feminism; general comments on fantasy; Earthsea: The Tombs of Atuan


Week 2: 8/24-26  The Tombs of Atuan; The Left Hand of Darkness


Week 3: 8/31-9/2  The Left Hand of Darkness


Week 4: 9/7-9  The Left Hand of Darkness; Woman on the Edge of Time; Honors project planning conference


Week 5: 9/14-16 Woman on the Edge of Time


Week 6: 9/21-23  Woman on the Edge of Time; short paper due


Week 7: 9/28-30  His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass


Week 8: 10/5-7  The Golden Compass; midterm


Week 9: 10/12-14 (Fall Break Monday and Tuesday)  His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass


Week 10: 10/19-21  Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Welcome to the Hellmouth”; “The Harvest”; “Angel”


Week 11: 10/26-28  Surprise”; “Innocence”


Week 12: 11/2-4  Fledgling


Week 13: 11/9-11 Fledgling  


Week 14: 11/16-18   Twilight


Week 15: 11/23-25  Twilight (Thanksgiving holiday Wednesday-Friday)


Week 16: 11/30-12/2  Overview discussion; Oral presentations; Honors project due



FINAL EXAM: Tuesday December 7, 12:30-2:30