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(9/15/2009 ; 4/7-11/2010) “’This world only my body remembered’”: Nature, Nation and Self in Women’s Writing
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The wilderness has long been conceived of as a space of individuation, a testing ground for the independent seeker, and an “outside” to the protection, as well as the surveillance and discipline, of the dominant social order. In the United States, wilderness has also been seen as constitutive of a kind of national exceptionalism and a formative element of a uniquely “American” character. With the twentieth century the established conflation of “the west” with “the wilderness” deepened, and a tendency to conflate both with masculinity grew as well. And yet, a feminine gendering of the wilderness and an association of womanhood with the natural world has a long and complicated history in America.
This panel will bring together analyses of gender, geography, and ecology to query the ways that women writers in the United States have reclaimed and deployed the space of the wilderness as a context for redefinitions of self, of nation, and of gender in fiction. Early ecofeminist thinkers are frequently criticized for their essentialist readings of gender; yet, as the passage from Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms in the title of this panel suggests, many women writers have found the environments, tropes, and orders of the natural world to be rich territory for examinations and expressions of gendered identity. That the organization of patriarchal capitalist culture has had significant and dire consequences for the natural environments of the United States is unquestionable, and the papers on this panel will examine the intersections of wilderness, gender, and identity in the 20th century writings by women in the United States.
Submit Abstracts to: email@example.com
Submission Deadline: September 15, 2009
Shealeen Meaney, PhD