Document Type

From the Archive to the Classroom


This piece discusses the integration of women writers into a “Great Books” curriculum at a public university in Canada. I consider how the relations among my students, me, and the texts of early modern women have changed over the past twenty years as those texts have become part of the canon. I argue that the availability of high-quality teaching editions and my university’s Learning Management System (LMS) have transformed both my students’ encounters with female authored texts as well as the kinds of academic labor that I need to undertake to facilitate undergraduate learning. Where I once spent a good deal of time establishing frameworks within which women’s writing had value, I now provide much more specialized guidance often helping students grapple with the material idiosyncrasies of early modern texts. Today, my students view women’s writing as integral to the curriculum and are far more eager to embark on in-depth research projects. At the same time, these positive developments have often obscured the ways in which patriarchy shaped women’s reading and writing, and I have had to underscore the conditions that restricted women’s textual agency. My students and I reflect on the implications of teaching women’s texts as “great books” and about the kinds of changes we need to make to make the curriculum more racially diverse.