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    Wisteria: A Female EcoGothic Metaphor in American Fiction Through the Ages

    Fitzpatrick, Teresa ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0555-1496 (2023) Wisteria: A Female EcoGothic Metaphor in American Fiction Through the Ages. In: Stratified Nature in Women's Writing: Past, Present and Future. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, pp. 19-34. ISBN 9781527594012

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    Women and nature have been so intrinsically linked in Western philosophy and the Anglo-American popular imagination, ‘each denigrated with reference to the other’ (Garrard, 2004), that despite feminist calls to separate them, gender and nature continue to be closely associated. Moreover, Female Gothic theories have demonstrated that monstrous nature is often configured through female corporeality. With the house and home designated as female domestic spaces, seen through the Gothic as a confined female space, it is hardly surprising that the porch and garden are similarly included within this domestic imagery. Indeed, the literary Victorian garden was often depicted as a site for young women to develop their nurturing skills and as a suitable space for chaperoned romantic relationships (Grasser, 2014). Flower imagery and gardening metaphors have reflected Western patriarchal ideals of femininity embedded by the Romantics, with monstrous nature associated with transgressive women and illicit sexual interactions taking place within the garden in Gothic texts. Yet, despite extensive criticism on nature and femininity and the more recent ecocritical turn in the Gothic, there is little research available on the frequent use of wisteria as a visual marker of the female domestic space. Moreover, as this paper demonstrates, wisteria is not just an indicator of the confining boundaries of female spaces in fiction but is consistently often a signifier of domestic abuse; one that women writers use to haunt the male imagination.

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