Ecofeminism in French Women’s Pre-Romantic Fiction

Christie Margrave

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Scholars are only just beginning to analyse ecocritical aspects of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French literature; yet a wealth of material lies in this area, particularly in women’s writing of the period. Merchant’s statement that ‘[t]he ancient identity of nature as a nurturing mother links women’s history with the history of the environment and ecological change’ rings true in Cottin’s Malvina and Amélie Mansfield and in Staël’s Corinne, in which the eponymous heroines are tied, both emotionally and in terms of personal histories, to natural landscapes. These heroines are to be disposed of as patriarchal society requires, and they ultimately die when they find themselves unable to rebel. However, it is when mankind’s greed and assumed superiority over nature destroy Amélie’s grove, Malvina’s garden and Corinne’s Roman landscape, that we see the heroines’ deaths follow. In this way, Cottin and Staël show that ecological neglect and deforestation highlight the oppressive treatment of women. Souza’s Adèle de Sénange, on the other hand, illustrates how a woman can find her true place in society when the destruction of one ecological system for the foundation of another is refused.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017


  • Ecofeminism
  • eco criticism
  • women's writing
  • nineteenth century
  • French literature

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