Department of English

Emma Train

MA in creative writing, poetry, University of California Davis

PhD Student


20th and 21st century American poetry and poetics; queer theory; ecocriticism and environmental theory; feminism; critical theory


E 314V • Women, Gender, Lit, Cul-Wb

34395 • Fall 2020
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM
CDWr (also listed as WGS 301)

E 314V  l  6-Women, Gender, Literature, and Culture


Instructor: Train, E

Unique:  34395

Semester: Fall 2020

Cross-lists:  AFR 317F.1, 44375


Prerequisite:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).


Course Description:  This course is structured around the question: What does gender have to do with literature?  We will explore other related questions like:  What do critics, authors, and scholars mean when they use the categories “woman writer,” “female writer,” or “feminist writer”? What are the possibilities and the limitations of these categories?  We will analyze how contemporary female-identified writers negotiate questions related to gender and, in particular, we will examine these how questions of gender are always deeply intertwined with questions of sexuality and of race.  Because these questions are especially evident in texts that challenge traditional literary forms and genres, we will mainly examine texts (including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) that are speculative, hybrid, and genre-bending and will analyze how and why female-identified writers innovate literary forms.  Although our primary objects of study will be literary texts, this course also aims to explore the shared theoretical ground of literary studies and women and gender studies (WGS), which includes feminist theory, queer theory, and Black studies.  To this aim, we will read literary texts alongside selections of critical and theoretical texts in order to learn how to apply theory as a tool for the close-reading of literature.


The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other writing-focused disciplines.  In particular, because this course is primarily interested in literary texts, close-reading skills and literary-critical methodologies will be emphasized.  Students will also gain practice using online research tools (e.g. OED, Jstor, Google Scholar) integral to writing and research in humanities disciplines.


Tentative Texts:  Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987); Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower (1993); Jos Charles’s feeld (2018); Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals (1980); Eileen Myles’s Inferno (a poet’s novel) (2010).


Requirements & Grading:  Three essays will comprise the majority of the student’s grade (75% of the total grade), one of which will require a mandatory revision while the others will have optional revisions.  Revision will be an integral part of writing in this course and each student will have the opportunity to revise each essay based on instructor feedback for a higher grade.  The remainder of each student’s grade (25% of the total grade) will include a combination of frequent but brief writing assignments as well as in-class participation, such as weekly response papers, Canvas discussion posts, short presentations, and discussion questions.

RHE 309K • Rhet Of Environmentalism

42530 • Fall 2019
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 104

The journalist Naomi Klein describes climate change as a civilizational wake-up call. In the wake of increasing urgency regarding climate change, this course will explore how artists and writers employ rhetorical techniques in the service of environmental wake-up calls. We will develop a working definition of environmentalism and identify the major themes and motives of environmental thinking. We will engage in the discourse and rhetoric of environmentalism, with an emphasis of the political stakes of environmental movements and writing. We will tackle questions like: What is environment rhetoric? What are the rhetorical aims of environmental movements and activism? What does it mean to be environmental or an environmentalist? What does it mean to “fight” against climate change? How do writers, artists, politicians, and journalists redefine what it means to be political in the age of climate change (what some scholars call the “anthropocene”)? 

We will explore a variety of texts (non-fiction, literature, policy documents) that engage in environmental thought, global climate change, and environmental justice and activism, and will also pay particular attention to visual objects and visual rhetoric (films, documentaries, photographs). This course aims to enable each student to locate themselves as a political actor and as a discerning cultural critic of environmental rhetoric. This course fulfills the university writing flag requirement.

Assignment breakdown: 

  • Minor Assignments (regular short writing assignments, under 500 words, and an annotated bibliography): 20%
  • Rhetorical Analysis Paper: 15%
  • Research Paper: 20%
  • Argumentative Proposal Paper: 20%
  • Argumentative Proposal Paper Revision: 15% 
  • Class participation: 10%

Required texts:

  • Mark Longaker and Jeffrey Walker, Rhetorical Analysis: A Brief Guide for Writers, 2011 (Pearson, 1st edition)
  • Other readings will be available for download from Canvas (within fair use policies).

Profile Pages