Committee for Women's Studies Says English 10 Neglects Women Writers

The Committee on Women's Studies yesterday issued a pamphlet criticizing English 10, "The Tradition of British Literature," for slighting the role of women in literature.

The pamphlet protests the fact that students in the year-long course study only three women writers.

Laura J. Orgel '79, a committee member, said yesterday the pamphlet is an attempt to encourage student awareness of discrimination in the curriculum and to attract students to a meeting next month to discuss the issue.

"To include a woman in the curriculum simply to increase the number of women would be condescending" to the female sex because the most prominent British authors are, in fact, male, William Alfred, Kennen Professor of English, who teaches English 10, said yesterday.

The fact that this year three women writers have been added to the previously all-male reading list is pure accident, Alfred said, adding "we were tired of Dickens" and decided to replace him with George Eliot.


One of the purposes of the critique is to "encourage people to re-evaluate the pre-existing standards" for what constitutes good literature, Mary E. Stokes '77-3, a committee member, said last night.

Most of the English 10 students contacted yesterday said they did not feel women writers are slighted in the course, since the tradition of British Literature is male-dominated.

One female student suggested that women writers be treated in a separate course with a more limited scope.

The critique is the first in a series the committee will issue in an attempt to "encourage an evaluation of the curriculum's perspective" and to foster an awareness of the need to treat women's issues more fully in the curriculum, Stokes said.

The pamphlet was written by Student Outreach, a subcommittee of the Committee for Women's Studies, which was established last March to lobby for the establishment of a women's studies department at Harvard.