Critical question: Have you noticed that we have only read authors that are men up until now? If so, what did you think was the reason? If not, do you think it is significant now that you notice, and why or why not?

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Though the publishing industry has become much more equitable in recent years, much of literature is rife with the assumption that male experience constitutes the "default" version of humanity. Stories by and about men are often treated as universal, while stories by and about women are often treated as niche. To those of us socialized under this assumption, it can be very easy to view a list of books by male authors as just that: a list of "regular" books. A list of books by women, by contrast, will often seem to have been deliberately curated around the gender of the authors.

To sidestep the gender imbalance in publishing—and, often, to have their work judged objectively—many women throughout history have chosen to write under male-sounding pseudonyms. You may be familiar with a few of these famous names already: Charlotte Brontë originally published Wuthering Heights under the name "Currer Bell," the incredibly prolific Amantine Dupin wrote as "George Sand," and Louisa May Alcott used the name "A. M. Barnard" early in her career.

For this question, it sounds like your teacher is specifically looking for you to reflect on your own experience of the course material. Give some consideration to the above discussion as you do so, and consider whether this social phenomenon might have impacted your interpretation of your reading list. Did you notice that all the writers were men? Do you think you would have noticed if all the writers were women? Would it take the same amount of time in both cases for you to notice the pattern?

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