Eco-feminist Readings of 19th-Century American Women's Fiction

full name / name of organization: 
Jane Rosecrans, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
contact email: 

45th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 3-6, 2014
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Host: Susquehanna University
Eco-feminism focuses on depictions of the natural world which help to illuminate 'the oppression, subordination, or domination of women,' revealing associations between the 'unjustified domination of women [. . .] and of non-human nature' (Warren 1-2). The domestic sphere of the nineteenth century necessarily included interactions with animals and the natural world, and women writing in nineteenth-century America were often uniquely situated to examine human relations with non-human nature from a different vantage point than those that centered on a more traditional patriarchal perspective. Annette Kolodny has written extensively about the process by which male writers gender the landscapes they survey as female in order to justify conquest, a construct which also reinforces the domination and oppression of women. Even into the nineteenth century, as westward expansion continued and urbanization increased, the male gaze surveyed and appropriated the female landscape and its resources. How do women writing in the 19th-century represent the environments in which they live? How do they characterize their relationships with nature, if not as conquerors or explorers? And how might such relations with non-human life forms reflect strategies of empowerment, or alternatives to patriarchal society? This panel would like to explore eco-feminist readings of 19th-century fiction -- texts which illuminate some aspect of the parallel domination of women and non-human nature and/or that challenge these oppressive constructs.
Please submit 1-page abstracts to Jane Rosecrans at
Deadline: September 30, 2013
Please include with your abstract:
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Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.