How women writers made powerful emotional, ethical, and spiritual appeals for environmental awareness and transformation
In 1844, Lydia Sigourney asserted, “Man’s warfare on the trees is terrible.” Like Sigourney many American women of her day engaged with such issues as sustainability, resource wars, globalization, voluntary simplicity, Christian ecology, and environmental justice. Illuminating the foundations for contemporary women’s environmental writing, Fallen Forests shows how their nineteenth-century predecessors marshaled powerful affective, ethical, and spiritual resources to chastise, educate, and motivate readers to engage in positive social change.
Fallen Forests contributes to scholarship in American women’s writing, ecofeminism, ecocriticism, and feminist rhetoric, expanding the literary, historical, and theoretical grounds for some of today’s most pressing environmental debates. Karen L. Kilcup rejects prior critical emphases on sentimentalism to show how women writers have drawn on their literary emotional intelligence to raise readers’ consciousness about social and environmental issues. She also critiques ecocriticism’s idealizing tendency, which has elided women’s complicity in agendas that depart from today’s environmental orthodoxies.
“Kilcup’s career as a noted scholar of American women’s writings is on full display in this book. Analyzing the works of nineteenth-century women writers from diverse racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds, Kilcup illuminates these writers’ complex, often conflicting interactions with the natural world.”
—Tina Gianquitto, author of “Good Observers of Nature”: American Women and the Scientific Study of the Natural World, 1820-1885