Adaptation to or of the environment? Examining the works of French women writers of the First Republic and First Empire through an ecocritical lens

Christie Margrave

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This article sheds light on popular authors of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century France: Mme Cottin, Mme de Souza and Mme de Staël. Examining their work through an ecocritical lens reveals how their environmental awareness predates the ecological Zeitgeist of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They marry ecosensitivity with critique of contemporary discourses of women’s position in society, investigating whether a species that adapts itself to an environment (physical and socio-political) triumphs over a species that adapts its environment to its needs. This paves the way for critique both of binary gender roles, and of mankind’s imperious attitude towards nature. Ultimately, they direct the reader away from notions of land ‘stewardship’ and towards arguments that maintaining a separation between mankind and nature destroys both.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Transnational Women's Writing in the Long Nineteenth Century
EditorsClaire Emilie Martin, Clorinda Donato
PublisherPalgrave Macmillian
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-40494-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-40493-1, 978-3-031-40496-2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2024


  • eco criticism
  • French literature
  • environment
  • gender
  • nature
  • culture
  • women's writing
  • nineteenth century

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