Karen L. Kilcup Fallen Forests: Emotion, Embodiment, and Ethics in American Women’s Environmental Writing, 1781-1924 Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2013, 504 pages.
Review by Nicolette Gable
The idea of a book on nineteenth century environmental writing conjures images of Walden Pond and white men of leisure rhapsodizing over sublime scenery. It is pleasantly surprising to read a book that subverts such expectations. In Fallen Forests Karen Kilcup takes on several large projects. First, she seeks to enlarge the scope of what we consider environmental writing and activism. Next, she attempts to shift the discussion of nineteenth century women’s writing from analysis of sentimentalism to the rhetorical use of emotional intelligence. Finally, she seeks to reclaim the discussion of women and nature from essentialism and idealism, by examining material conditions and directly confronting the limitations, contradictions, and failings of these women’s work.