Clemente Course: Literature, Women and Myth – Whitworth Women’s Facility, Winter 2022

Clemente Course: Literature

Common Good Atlanta, Clemente Course

Whitworth Women’s Facility, Winter 2022

Instructor: Amy Bonnaffons

[email protected]


Women and Myth

Image: Cecilia Bonilla


Course Description

This course will engage with myths written by and about women, from various cultures, from ancient history to the present.  The authors of our texts—most of whom identify as women themselves—ask questions about what it means to be a woman within a particular culture, and how women resist, acquiesce, or reinvent these definitions.  As we engage with these texts, we will consider what makes them culturally specific and what resonates across culture and time.  We will also consider our own reactions to these myths, as people who are or have been defined as women; eventually we will pen our own mythic stories to help define our own ideas of who we are.

This is a discussion-based class; everyone is expected to participate in class discussions, and everyone’s voice is welcome.

We will do a lot of writing in this class, both in and outside of class.  Students will be asked to write both critically and creatively, and to explore personal responses to questions asked by the texts.  


Course Objectives

Over the course of the semester, students will:

  • hone skills in critical thinking and literary analysis
  • develop familiarity with literary terms and their usage
  • learn to write a persuasive literary essay, using textual evidence effectively
  • develop voice and storytelling skills through creative writing
  • learn collaboratively with others and work in groups
  • develop public speaking skills 
  • learn to relate literature to personal and societal issues


Major Assignments

  • 1-page response paper due every class
  • Final paper proposal due February 11
  • Final paper due February 25



Weekly Response Papers: Each week, you will be asked to write a one-page paper responding to the instructor’s prompt for that week.  These papers are not highly formal in style but should be well-thought-out and demonstrate critical thinking and deep engagement with the assigned text.  Sometimes the prompt will ask for a critical response and sometimes for a creative response.

Final Paper Proposal:  You will write a brief document that tells me the following: the text you will be writing your final paper on, why you have chosen this text, and the interpretive argument you plan to make about the text.  I will provide several prompts for you to choose from, or you can write your own prompt.

Final Paper:  You will write an argument-driven paper discussing the text or texts you outlined in your proposal.  This paper will be 3 pages in length.


Schedule of Readings and Assignments

January 7: “The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi” and “The Descent of Inanna”; “The Temple Hymns of Endeduhanna” (read and discuss in-class; anything we don’t finish is homework) 

January 14: Euripides, Medea (read and discuss in-class); poetry selections by Sappho

January 21: Zitkala-Sa, American Indian Stories

January 28: Gloria Anzaldua, excerpt from “The Borderlands/La Frontera”; selected poetry by Audre Lorde

February 4: Maxine Hong Kingston, excerpt from Woman Warrior; Lynda Barry, “The Aswang”

February 11: Poetry by Natalie Diaz and essay by Sabrina Orah Mark

*Paper Proposal due*

February 18: Akwaeke Emezi, Dear Senthuran

February 25: 

*Final Paper due*