The course foregrounds readers’ interpretive practices, i.e., how we read and make meaning in texts, particularly if we interpret them using the premise that gender is a social construct—rather than a natural, ahistorical “essence” that somehow “expresses” our true “selves.” To examine the ways in which literature participates in the social reproduction of gender, as well as the difference that gender makes in the production and reception of literary texts, students will practice extensive close reading, evidence-based analysis and argumentation, and independent-inquiry. Raising awareness of how meanings are created through acts of critical reading, students will thus learn to analyze the ways texts construct categories of difference, including differences of gender, race and social class.