Recently I have been revisiting classic novels that feature ‘man-vs-nature’ conflict
narratives, editing them to feature female protagonists. To date this project includes; The Old Man and the Sea (nowThe Old Woman and the Sea), and The Call of the Wild, with two more in progress. Currently, The Call of the Wild has been printed and sent out to 15 participants for review, as a response to the project and to the new story.
The impulse to do this has developed naturally over the course of my current work and research which is centered around imaginings of nature and deconstructing the dominant narratives of human/nature relationships in contemporary culture (as they stem from colonial and capitalist violence, and patriarchal, settler world-views). Recently a feminist lens on ecological issues through fiction, science fiction and theory has been my area of focus, and I am interested in the eco-feminist argument that the female voice and body may represent a different reading of and relationship to nature in and of itself.
Beyond academic concerns, this particular project has also largely been inspired by my experience as a new mother; considering the role that stories play in the formation of our sense of self, our position in the world, and here, our relationship to the earth. By revisiting the stories that I enjoyed as a young female reader, I have been thinking about the different ways in which these same stories might be experienced by my son as a reader.
Overall this experiment attempts to invent a genre missing from the cannon of classic literature, pointing to the oppression of the female voice and what might be lost because of it. While contemporary feminist perspectives create a possible space for changing ideas about human-non-human relationships today, these new readings of classic fictions ask whether different kinds of historical relationships to nature might emerge via the female voice.
This work is itself a form of fiction that imagines: what if these perspectives and voices had always been heard; What possible worlds could we live in now?