The contribution of women to the history of American literature is immense. United in their subjection to patriarchal culture but divided on grounds of class, race, and age, female authors have created a rich mosaic in their works, not only challenging the social status quo by employing feminist criticism of its injustices, but also enriching the literary canon with an innovative use of language and in the process defying any essentialist notions of female identity and constantly redefining what it means to be a woman in American society. Encompassing feminist classics of all literary epochs and genres and authors such as Anne Bradstreet, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Gertrude Stein, Betty Friedan, Sylvia Plath, Valerie Solanas, Toni Morrison, and Eve Ensler, this course will provide an overview of how women have shaped the national literary identity.