chapter  1
18 Pages

Feminist Ecocriticism

A Posthumanist Direction in Ecocritical Trajectory
BySerpil Oppermann

Transnationalism. Translocalism. Ecoglobalism. Ecocosmopolitalism. Posthumanism. Postcolonial Ecologies. Queer Ecology. Trans-corporeality. New Materialisms. Material Feminisms. 1 These are the new trends that noticeably characterize the current phase of ecocritical studies. They distinctively mark the field’s expansion into more politically and ethically inflected areas of concern, involving diverse but also disparate methodologies and perspectives which are often grouped together as aspects of a “third wave ecocriticism,” a rather controversial labeling coined by Joni Adamson and Scott Slovic in their introduction to the Summer 2009 special issue of MELUS. The wave metaphor that Adamson and Slovic have adopted from Lawrence Buell’s wave model of ecocritical developments directly echoes Ynestra King and Val Plumwood’s now problematic labeling of ecofeminism as a “third wave of the women’s movement,” and “third wave or stage of feminism” (Plumwood 39) respectively. In his 2010 essay, entitled “The Third Wave of Ecocriticism,” Slovic himself acknowledges that he and Adamson borrowed the wave metaphor “from the idea of first and second wave feminism” (5), but he also recognizes its shortcomings. “The wave metaphor,” he writes, “breaks down in the ecocritical context because the waves do not simply end when a new wave begins” (5). Greta Gaard, the first feminist ecocritic who has been overtly critical of the term, objects to its usage on historical grounds. Referring critically to Lawrence Buell’s use of the wave theory of ecocritical developments that inspired Adamson and Slovic to write their introduction, Gaard issues a significant warning about what is absent in this model and asks: “where are the analytical frameworks for gender, species, and sexuality? They do not appear” (“New Directions” 644). Gaard’s questioning enacts a yet unarticulated concern about ecocriticism’s polycentric focus and its rhizomatic trajectory 2 that seems to be strategically all-inclusive but paradoxically exclusive of the implications of gender and sexuality for environmentalism. The current ecocritical exploration of such issues as global and local concepts of place, translocality and bioregionalism, human and animal subjectivities, 20environmental justice, and posthumanist reinterpretations of such concepts as “agency,” “matter,” and “body,” as well as such issues as speciesism, ecophobia, biophilia, racism, and sexism within conceptions of the human and more-than-human world, have raised important questions on the expansion of the field and its multiple horizons. The exigencies of ecocriticism, to use Simon Estok’s phrase (“Reading” 77), also require engagement in the questions of gendered natures and sexuality, conceptual associations of nature with women, and queer sexualities among human and animal communities. Certainly incorporating feminist analyses of these issues into ecocritical scholarship more explicitly would enrich ecocriticism’s epistemic boundaries. That is why the correlations between ecocriticism and ecofeminism, or ecological feminism as it has been variously referred to, need to be re-articulated.