Reading for writers: feminist fiction (a fortnightly course)

Course Dates: 17/01/24 - 27/03/24
Time: 18:00 - 20:00
Location: Online
Tutors: 
The landscape of feminist fiction is rich and multifaceted. In this course we'll explore just a fragment to learn what lessons authors of feminist workscan teach budding writers of fiction. We'll read novels by Doris Lessing, Bernadine Evaristo, Mieko Kawakami, and others. We'll analyse, discuss and use these works to inspire and develop our own fiction. You will need to come to the first class having read the short works 'Woman at Point Zero', by Nawal El Saadawi, and 'The Yellow Wallpaper', by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £139.00 Senior fee £139.00 Concession £70.00

Course Code: HW258

Wed, eve, 17 Jan - 27 Mar '24

Duration: 6 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Any questions? writing@citylit.ac.uk
or call 020 4582 0415

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

The world of feminist fiction is diverse and thriving. From stories of oppression and struggle, adventure and fantasy, to those that explore identity and sexuality, there are many ways to grapple with feminist themes. This practical course is designed to help writers connect to their creativity through active engagement with feminist texts. You'll explore some of the techniques and themes in feminist fiction and develop your own writing through a series of guided exercises. You will need to read each assigned novel in its entirety and classes will meet every other week to give you a chance to read and reflect.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

- Major feminist themes
- How to read as a writer
- Key fiction craft elements such as character, structure, and point of view
- Giving and receiving constructive feedback.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Identify some of the key current debates in feminist fiction
- Analyse and discuss fictional texts with confidence
- Understand some fundamental techniques in fiction writing and apply understanding to own work
- Produce several pieces of fiction
- Give and receive constructive feedback with sensitivity.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an intermediate course suitable for those with some creative writing experience. You should be an enthusiastic reader with an interest in feminist perspectives in fiction. Fluency reading and writing in English is essential.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

This course will use analysis and discussion of published texts to inspire creative writing. Through tutor presentations, group work, and guided writing exercises that connect to the reading, you will gain an insight into your own fiction writing practice and develop your skills. You will be expected to complete reading and writing assignments in your own time. You will need to be able to commit to reading one novel a fortnight over the duration of the course.


All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.

For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.

City Lit Writing endeavours to create a safe and welcoming space for all and we strongly support the use of content notes in our classes. This means that learners are encouraged to make their tutor and classmates aware in advance if any writing they wish to share contains material that may be deemed sensitive. If you are unsure about what might constitute sensitive content, please ask your tutor for further clarification and read our expectations for participating in writing courses at City Lit.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need to borrow or purchase copies of the following texts:

- Woman at Point Zero, Nawal El Saadawi (please read before the first class and have your copy to hand)
- The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (please read before the first class and have your copy to hand)
- Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner
- The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
- Blonde Roots, Bernardine Evaristo
- All Men Want to Know, Nina Bouraoui (trans. Aneesa Abbas Higgins)
- Breasts and Eggs, Mieko Kawakami (trans. Sam Bett and David Boyd)

Copies of supplementary texts will be provided. You will need to bring writing materials.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You may consider joining another intermediate fiction writing course such as Writing fiction, Starting your novel or Short story writing. If you feel ready to submit your writing for rigorous constructive feedback, you can progress to Advanced fiction writing workshop.

All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.

Eleanor Penny

Eleanor Penny is a writer, essayist and poet. She won the Poetry London Competition 2020, the Verve Poetry Festival prize 2020, and was Highly Commended in the 2021 Forward Prizes. She has twice been shortlisted for Young People’s Poet Laureate. She is a former Barbican Young Poet, and an alumnus of the London Writers Awards 2021. She hosts the literature podcast Bedtime Stories for the End of the World. In her current project Albion, she is researching maritime histories of the UK. She teaches creative writing workshops with organisations including the Poetry School, Spread The Word and The Midnight Run. Her debut pamphlet 'Mercy' was published in 2021 by Flipped Eye. She is currently working on her first novel.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.