Gendered Ecologies and Nineteenth-Century Women Writers

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast MLA Conference
contact email: 

If ecology is without nature, as Timothy Morton provocatively argued in 2007, then one may wonder of ecology without the feminine as a corollary. For nature, much like the feminine, has been fetishized, exoticized, and romanticized as a signifier emptied out—a sort of lacuna. If we can be at ease with the gap, vacancy, or interval and, perhaps, theorize about the unfilled space while sorting out the inconsistencies of what it means to represent nature, the feminine, and androgyny, then we might begin to trace the valuable contributions of 19th-century women writers to the development of the term oecologia coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866 and beyond. 

Gendered Ecologies and Nineteenth-century Women Writers panel session invites paper proposals that consider the spaces and places women writers have occupied as part of gendering the term ecology—whether masculine, feminine, or androgynous. Indeed, examples may span from Dorothy Wordsworth’s gendering of nature and the floating island as feminine to Susan Fenimore Cooper’s keen observations of flora and fauna in Rural Hours to Margaret Fuller’s “ecology of self” in Summer on the Lakes to Octavia Hill’s preservationist action in the Lake District among many other women writers. Paper proposals for the session should bear in mind any of the three guiding principles: transhistorical, transatlantic, and transcorporeality (Alaimo, Bodily Natures, 2010). Topics may include:

New Materialist Ecologies:

*Transcending the Binary Materialism of Gender and Ecology

*Animating Asexual Natures 

*Gender Hierarchy and Environmental Degradation

Feminist Political Ecologies and Built Environments:

*Ecofeminism vs. Ecopaternalism

*Nineteenth-Century Girlhood and Ecological Spaces

*Feminist Philosophy and the Biology of Gender

*Ecology and anarcha-Feminisms in the Nineteenth Century 

*Racialized Ecologies and Gender

Gendered Ecologies and Androgyny:

*Destabilizing Gendered Ecological Systems

*Pantheistic Femininisms and/or Masculinities

*Queer Ecologies

*Posthumanism and the Question of Gender

Submit paper proposals (200 word abstracts) to the NeMLA portal: 

Contact information for co-chairs: Jill Murphy at and Dewey Hall at