Wollstonecraft and After: Gender, Writing and the Public Sphere (Q3183)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module offers you the opportunity for in-depth study of the work of Mary Wollstonecraft, the influential writer and thinker who is widely regarded as the founder of modern feminism, as well as an important radical woman novelist. It will examine her novels Mary, and The Wrongs of Woman, and her travel writings, in addition to her famous polemical tracts, A Vindication of the Rights of Men and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. 

Wollstonecraft's writing participated in the heated literary and political debates of her time, and exerts from the writings of her contemporaries, including Mary Robinson's 'Letter to the Women of England', Edmund Burke's 'Reflections on the Revolution in France', and Mary Hays's 'Appeal to the Men of Great Britain', will also feature on the module to illuminate such contexts. 

Topics addressed in seminars will include the debates over female conduct, sentiment and sensibility, political revolution, sex and love, marriage, female friendship, commerce, and the Gothic. Particular attention will be paid to the debates over the novel in the 1790s, and Wollstonecraft's fiction will be considered alongside works by other radical female novelists in this context. 

Wollstonecraft's unconventional life made her notorious in her own time: the fact that she was not married to the father of her daughter, Fanny, was exposed when she later married the radical philosopher William Godwin. The module concludes by considering the question of female reputation, by addressing Wollstonecraft's afterlife in the various representations of her after her death, including the infamous Memoirs written by Godwin, and in the 'Mrs Freke' character in Maria Edgeworth's novel Belinda.


33%: Practical (Workshop)
67%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: