The exploitation of women and nature in Appalachia : an analysis of labor rights and environmental issues as presented by three Appalachian women writers

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Holly Rose Cian (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Mae Miller Claxton

Abstract: Environmental activism in Appalachia in recent years has focused on the harm that practicessuch as mountaintop removal mining, hydraulic fracturing, and deforestation contribute to thenatural landscape of the Appalachian region. However, because of a history of outsideindustries exploiting Appalachia for its natural resources, writers in Appalachia have beengrappling with the environmental and social effects of industrial development for centuries.Wilma Dykeman’s 1962 novel The Tall Woman, Rebecca Harding Davis’s 1861 novella Life inthe Iron-Mills, and Florence Cope Bush’s 1989 biography Dorie: Woman of the Mountains arethree relatively unstudied Appalachian texts that wrestle with the economic and environmentalchanges facing Appalachia from the early days of the American Civil War to the mid-20thcentury. These texts more specifically show how marginalized populations such as women,immigrants, and the poor are disproportionately affected by decisions that are made about theenvironments in which they live—decisions often made by outsiders. As texts written by threeAppalachian women, the works studied here offer perspectives on feminism and environmentalism that too often go unnoticed in both American literature and American history.In an acknowledgement of the marginalization of women and of the silencing of Appalachianvoices overall, this thesis looks to ecofeminist theory and literary analysis in order to explorethe connections between environmentally harmful practices, increases in women’s labor, andthe suppression of women’s voices in outcry over social and environmental concerns. Inaddition, this thesis examines the ideological and economic reasons why labor exploitation andenvironmental degradation in the Appalachian Mountains are able to continue despite the farreachingecological and social consequences of such practices.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Appalachia, Ecofeminism, Environmentalism, Women's Labor
Ecofeminism in literature
Environmental degradation in literature
Women -- Appalachian Region, Southern -- Social conditions
Davis, Rebecca Harding,1831-1910. Life in the Iron-Mills.
Bush, Florence Cope, 1933-
American literature -- Appalachian Region, Southern -- History and criticism.
Dykeman, Wilma. Tall woman.

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