Reader query: Novel for feminist philosophy course?

A reader writes:

This is a general request for help in choosing a text for a feminist philosophy course.
At the request of one of my students I would like to add a novel (novella or short story would also be fine) to my syllabus. My student suggested The Handmaid’s Tale, but my preference would be to add something (1) more contemporary or (2) something that considers gender as it intersects with race and/or disability. I have a couple of ideas, but would appreciate more suggestions as I am sure there are great things I’m overlooking. For reference, this is an introductory level undergraduate course open to students who may not have had any previous exposure to either philosophy or women/gender studies.
Thanks for your help!

14 thoughts on “Reader query: Novel for feminist philosophy course?

  1. Not contemporary, but ‘woman on the edge of time’ by Marge Piercy has gender/mental illness intersecting. Science fictional also.

  2. Perhaps Shani Mootoo’s novel Cereus Blooms at Night? It’s a little trauma-riffic, but it’s good & they won’t have read it a million times already.

    Adichie’s novel Americanah, or one of her short stories from The Thing Around Your Neck, might also be good.

  3. Sorry, the aforementioned Woolf piece isn’t contemporary. I haven’t taught either of these, but they might work:

    Aya, Life in Yop City & Aya, Love in Yop City (Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie)

    For Today I Am a Boy (Kim Fu)

  4. My feminism students have responded extremely well to Carol Shields’ novel Unless.

  5. Zadie Smith, On Beauty or her NW (if it’s formal qualities aren’t too challenging).

  6. Although it’s not a novel, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks works well.

  7. I would second the suggestions of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, and Toni Morrison (going from more to less recent). Another thought: ‘A life less ordinary’ by Baby Halder. Less recent: Buchi Emecheta (Second-class citizen, The joys of motherhood), Maya Angelou’s multi-book autobiography.

  8. I teach selections from Assata Shakur’s autobiography, as well as Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. It’s the earliest Morrison, so not exact contemporary, but my students love it and its themes are easy to connect to the present moment. One benefit of Shakur’s autobiography is that you can pull a few chapters and keep the reading shorter rather than longer.

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