The pilgrimage home: Spiritual ecology in nature writing written by contemporary American women
AuthorOubre, Katherine Adaire
AdvisorDryden, Edgar A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractEcological literary criticism integrates environmental awareness with the study of literature. If we understand where we are, ecocriticism asserts, we will choose to act in accord with the ecological needs of that place. Contemporary American writers Gretel Ehrlich, Terry Tempest Williams, and Linda Hogan model this awareness by examining the multiple stories that characterize a sense of place. Ecological critics utilize many theoretical underpinnings of Romanticism, particularly Phenomenology and Mysticism, which I discuss in the context of Annie Dillard's work. While Dillard fits a traditional Romantic model, writers like Ehrlich, Williams, and Hogan critique Romanticism's failure to recognize cultural, scientific, and ecological stories in order to describe nonhuman nature. Gretel Ehrlich, in Islands, the Universe, Home, explores the relationship between physical geography, geology and geophysics, spirituality, culture, and story to find a sense of home. Ehrlich calls into question her own subjectivity by utilizing the foundational concepts of humanist geography. Terry Tempest Williams integrates ecological and environmental issues, personal and familial concerns, and spiritual elements, examining human influence on the landscape as well as human inability to adapt to natural cycles in the environment. In Refuge, Williams constructs a feminine genealogy connecting women and the land. Linda Hogan critiques the European-American concept of individualism, arguing that it is a primary force in the destruction of the environment and its human inhabitants. In Solar Storms, she revises traditional autobiography as her protagonist Angel Wing learns that her individual story cannot be understood out of the context of her family, tribal community, and the land. The final chapter investigates the use of the memoir within the nature writing tradition by examining the work of feminist memoirist Nancy Mairs, who emphasizes the human body as a dwelling for the spirit. I synthesize the work of Mairs, Dillard, Ehrlich, Williams, and Hogan to develop an erotics of space and place that reflects a multi-epistemological approach to nonhuman nature. As all of my writers would agree, if we see all space as sacred, as "home," then we're less likely to desecrate it.
Degree ProgramGraduate College