Gendered Ecologies

BookGendered Ecologies

Gendered Ecologies

New Materialist Interpretations of Women Writers in the Long Nineteenth Century

Clemson University Press


March 18th, 2020



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Gendered Ecologies: New Materialist Interpretations of Women Writers in the Long Nineteenth Century considers the value of interrelationships that exist among human, nonhuman species, and inanimate objects as part of the environment, and features observations by women writers as recorded in nature diaries, poetry, bildungsroman, sensational fiction, philosophical fiction, and folklore. In addition, the edition aims to present a case for transnational women writers who have been involved in participating in the discourse of natural philosophy from the late eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries. The collection engages with current paradigms of thought influencing the field of ecocriticism and, more specifically, ecofeminism. Various theories are featured, informing interpretation of literary and non-literary material, which include Anthropocene feminism, feminist geography, neo-materialism, object-oriented ontology, panarchy, and trans-corporeality. In particular, neo-materialism and trans-corporeality are guiding principles of the collection, providing theoretical coherence. Neo-materialism becomes a means by which to examine literary and non-literary content by women writers with attention to the materiality of objects as the aim of inquiry. Regarding trans-corporeality, contributors provide evidence of the interrelations between the body-as-matter and animate beings along with inanimate entities. Together, neo-materialism and trans-corporeality drive the edition, as contributors contemplate the significance of interactions among human, nonhuman, organic, and inanimate objects.


'A wonderful addition to the field of environmental humanities that will undoubtedly appeal to human geographers, social ecologists, literary scholars, and philosophers of science... The editors have gathered a scholarship that will forge fruitful bridges between literature and science and incite readers to revisit their favorite novels with new awareness and sensitivity that are very timely.'
Hélène B. Ducros, EuropeNow

'A fresh and invigorating contribution to the field of environmental humanities... The ‘diversity’ of the collection allows for a picture to emerge here of the many, complex and fascinating engagements with natural history made by women writers during the long nineteenth century.'
Penny Bradshaw, Green Letters

'This collection is very impressive, offering insightful new readings of British and American women authors from the perspective of new materialism... these essays expand the conception of what constitutes scientific writing in the long nineteenth century and recognizes the contributions of these women writers for the first time.'
Ronald D. Morrison, Pacific Coast Philology

'Writing about nature and the environment is a growing area, paving the way for fruitful scholarly work on women’s writing about the environment. The long nineteenth century is a conflicted and productive site for this examination: women’s lives and work were, then as now, enmeshed in the confining ecosystem of a patriarchal culture which failed to take their work—both creative and scientific—seriously, and so it is promising to see books such as Dewey W. Hall and Jillmarie Murphy’s Gendered Ecologies [...] breaking new ground. As the introduction makes clear, this collection of essays is intentionally diverse and pleasingly intersectional, negotiating complex boundaries not only across genders, but also between the human and nonhuman, and additionally between women’s bodies and their material environments. In the process the essays offer some exciting new ways of reading women writers.'
Serena Trowbridge, Victorian Studies

'The essays in this collection consider the interrelationships between humans, nonhumans, objects, and environments. [...] There is much to gain from this collection for literary researchers, ecocritics, and feminists. [...] Gendered Ecologies provides an evocative look at the materiality and ecofeminist underpinnings of canonical and lesser-discussed texts written by women in the nineteenth century.'
Melinda Backer, Victorian Studies 

Author Information

Dewey W. Hall is Professor of English at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. He is the author of Romantic Naturalists, Early Environmentalists: An Ecocritical Study, 1789–1912 (Routledge, 2014), featuring a discussion about literary origins behind the National Parks in America and National Trust in England. The work for the study was supported through a short-term fellowship at The Huntington Library. His second book Romantic Ecocriticism: Origins and Legacies (Lexington, 2016) examines science-based discourse in nineteenth-century literature and implications for contemporary culture. His third book Victorian Ecocriticism: The Politics of Place and Early Environmental Justice (Lexington, 2017) is an interdisciplinary edition, delving into the significance of place as represented by Victorian-era writers concerned about their environs. He has published in ELH, European Romantic Review, and The Coleridge Bulletin. He also belongs to an interdisciplinary research program, featuring Literature and Arts, as part of St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. Jillmarie Murphy is a Professor of English and Director of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program at Union College, Schenectady, New York. Her research interests and publications employ the psycho-social paradigm of attachment theory, drawing on topics considering gender, race, class, and ethnicity and their relationship to human-to-human, human-to-place, and human-to-animal bonding in literature. She has several publications that engage archival research and provide a lens through which to consider the evolution of literary history. She has published three books: Hawthorne in His Own Time (University of Iowa Press, 2007), Monstrous Kinship: Realism and Attachment Theory in the 19th and Early 20th Century Novel (University of Delaware Press, 2011), and Attachment, Place, and Otherness in Nineteenth-Century American Literature: New Materialist Representations (Routledge, 2018). She is also a contributor to The Oxford Handbook of Early American Literature (2008) and Emerson in Context (2014).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Part I: British Female Voices33
1. The “vast prison” of the World: Counter-Anthropocenes in the Works of Mary Shelley35
2. Beyond the Bower: The Garden, the Tower, and the Fate of the Embowered Woman53
3. A Space of “unwonted liberty and pleasure”: Charlotte Brontë’s Treatment of Gardens in the Bildungsromans of Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe73
4. The Place of Objects: The Female Body, Nature, and Entanglement in Jane Eyre and The Mill on the Floss93
5. The Manifold Ecologies of Lady Audley’s Secret109
Part II: American Female Voices129
6. Ecocultural Contact and the Panarchy of Place: Jane Johnston Schoolcraft and Margaret Fuller in the Great Lakes131
7. Beyond the Binary: Transforming Ecologies in Susan Fenimore Cooper’s Rural Hours and Celia Thaxter’s Among the Isle of Shoals151
8. Ants Become Giants: Laura Ingalls’s Pioneering Perspective in the Little House Books169
9. Animating Athens: Frances Wright and Lydia Maria Child’s Hellenic Haunts183
10. Toward A Political Ecology in Lydia Maria Child’s “Chocorua’s Curse”203