Paper Topic: Eco-Feminism in Sigourney’s Fallen Forests and Dickinson’s I Robbed the Woods

I Chose this topic because Fallen Forests is a work that jumped out at me from the works we have read in class this semester. I enjoyed reading the poem and it presented an interesting perspective of nature and trees. Sigourney practically worships trees as being more important than humans. I chose Dickinson because I remember reading a lot of her work back in high school and a majority of it dealt with nature. I narrowed it down to I Robbed the Woods because the it also deals with forests but presents a juxtaposing viewpoint of the author being the one personally destroying the woods. Both works deal with the destruction of nature at the hands of humans and the “robbery of forests. Eco-feminism deals with the domination of nature by humans, and specifically, men. Sigourney laments the destruction of trees at the hands of settlers and equates them to an invading army, conquering the land. Dickinson is a woman and is the one stealing from trees in the woods. Both poems personify trees as defenseless beings being plundered.

Questions to explore:
1. Who is the villain in Fallen Forests, Men or Man?
2. How is nature personified in each poem. How are they similar/different?
3. What are the future implications/consequences of robbing nature?
4.What is the importance of both authors being women, and how are humans portrayed in the poems?

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11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by lpeake on October 27, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I think it’s interesting that Dickinson is the one destroying the trees in her poem vs. men/man (which is also an interesting dynamic to look at) in Sigourney’s poem. I think that would work as a second part to your first question like:

    1. Who is the villain in Fallen Forests, Men or Man? How does this compare to Dickinson’s villian of a woman? Are they specifying either men or woman or do both deal with overarching mankind?

  2. Posted by bhough on October 27, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    4.What is the importance of both authors being women, and how are humans portrayed in the poems?

    I think this question has alot of potential for your paper topic. What about women makes them “not” robbers of nature? Are there any examples within either Sigourney or Dickinson that prove women to actually be doing the same things that they say men are doing? And, as ecofeminism has intensely delved into, what does this difference between women and men men for women’s overall image, and how does that image harmonize or butt heads with the image of nature?

  3. Posted by al002 on October 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I agree with the above post that it would help your paper to consider it. I think this was a very interesting comparison of texts. The question “1. Who is the villain in Fallen Forests, Men or Man?” is the most interesting. A question I would consider is:

    7. What is the significance of trees in their culture? Why is it described as robbing the trees instead of using free resources?

  4. Posted by brightgirl04 on October 28, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I agree with those above that question number one is a great question. Something to also consider is Sigourney lived in Connecticut her whole life and Dickinson lived in Amherst her whole do any of their works support a bioregionalist viewpoint?

  5. This is a really interesting comparison, I also found Sigourney’s poem really interesting when I first read it. I especially liked the 4th question “What is the importance of both authors being women, and how are humans portrayed in the poems?,” and to add on to it I would ask do they challenge female/male roles in reference to nature? Also how do they being women portray nature (do they gender it in anyway)?

  6. Posted by kbudd on October 28, 2011 at 4:13 am

    The idea of destroying trees as the ultimate destruction of nature is also a trope you could analyze through many of the readings this semester. I think you could strength the thesis of you work if you analyze a male work that argues against cutting down trees. The question you could ask:

    Do female writers illicit more emotional responses than male authors, and why?

    I know this is similar to your first question, but it is something you could think about while addressing your original question. Great topic.

  7. Great idea for a topic. I also loved the poem Fallen Forests and I think you will have a lot of interesting analysis on this topic. I really liked this question:

    What is the importance of both authors being women, and how are humans portrayed in the poems?

    and I might add on to it:

    What is the significance of Dickenson’s poem in the context that women are usually supposed to tied closer to nature than men? What does it mean that she is also the one “robbing” it?

  8. Posted by teagueoreagan on October 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Question one is a solid question as it hints at exploring the idea of collective responsibility–collective guilt–as even though it may have been primarily men doing the legwork of exploitation it was also women (and moreover the population as a whole) that enjoyed the benefits of exploitation. In light of this assertion, I believe that Dickinson’s perspective assumes a greater level of responsibility as it seems (I haven’t read it) that she realizes that most everything around her that she enjoys materially is the result of chopping down trees–if there wasn’t a market for wooden goods then not nearly as many trees would be felled. In contrast I feel that Sigourney takes no personal responsibility, preferring to blame exclusively men for doing all the chopping down as if they were operating maliciously and not based on the existence of capitalism and agrarianism– indict the machine not the cog.

    I would ask: How are the two women’s perspectives similar and how do they differ and what do the differences tell us about their perspectives as a whole?

  9. I agree that the first question is the strongest, and has good potential for an eco-feminist examination of the texts.

    13. Does either author invoke spirituality with her description of nature? If so, how does this inform their treatment of gender issues in their respective texts?

  10. A really interesting topic that raises some important questions about women’s roles in environmental destruction and preservation. The contrast between them that you have presented here is an intriguing on, and I think question #13 gives you another option for thinking about the similarities/differences in their depictions of nature. Here’s another one to consider:

    14. What role does domesticity play in these women’s ideas about nature, or wilderness more specifically?

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