Haunting Transcendentalist Landscapes: EcoGothic Politics in Margaret Fuller’s Summer on the Lakes

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Abstract

In this essay, the reminiscences of Margaret Fuller, feminist activist and member of the American Transcendentalist movement, from her journey to the Great Lakes region, entitled Summer on the Lakes (1844), are considered in the light of EcoGothic considerations. The essay shows how Fuller’s journey disillusioned her about progress and led to abandoning the serene vision of nature and landscapes reflected in the works of Transcendentalists. The destruction of nature and landscape verging on an ecological catastrophe is presented by Fuller in the perspective of the Gothic, as a price for the technological development driven by the capitalist economy. The Gothic character of Summer on the Lakes derives from the mental condition of the writer and a pessimistic vision arising from the debunking of the myth of America as a virgin land. Fuller’s work constitutes an EcoGothic tribute to the indigenous inhabitants of America—but also a Gothic live burial of the Native Americans who do still live in the regions she visits—as well as to Mariana and Frederica, unusual and gothicized women excluded from society. By bringing together Fuller’s observations about nature, indigenous peoples and marginalized women, the essay shows how Fuller’s text prophetically announces the beginning of the end of the American environment.

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A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture; The Journal of University of Lodz

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