Navigating Ecofeminist and Womanist Readings in the Works of Jesmyn Ward
This research examines two major novels of Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (2011) and Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017), that use eco-feminist and womanist theory to establish how intersections of gender, race, and class inevitably impact broader ecological concerns of the American South. Conflating the influence of American racism as an ecological extension of southern identities not only informs but reconstructs our perceptions of polarizing southern mythologies that have constrained Black women to cycles of historical alienation. Ward aligns her female protagonists with nature, and suggests that through motherhood, southern Black women reclaim and heal from a landscape that has historically devalued Black women by making them apologetic for existing through means of social and policy discrimination. Ward’s manipulation of southern landscapes brings forth an exciting creative expression of womanism and ecocriticism that ultimately manifests into a subculture of itself: eco-womanism. Ward’s combination of these two theoretical lenses enriches our perceptions of southern culture because she repurposes the landscape as an exclusive place of flourishing and abundance for southern, Black women.
Ward, Jesmyn, womanism, ecofeminism, Black women, southern, ecocritical, Honors College
Powell, P. E. (2021). Navigating ecofeminist and womanist readings in the works of Jesmyn Ward (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.