In spite of the flowering of anthologies and criticism concerning American women's nature writing, ecocritics have concentratedon a small group of writings and on twentieth-century authors. The reasons for such omissions are numerous. Many nineteenth-century women's writings remain relatively inaccessible, in spite of the exponential growth in recent years of collections and reprint series. Moreover, in earlier writing the author's attitude toward nature is frequently ambiguous or complicated, making the literature resistant to recuperation, especially by critics seeking a relatively unproblematized, even idealistic, connection between women and nature. Much of this writing also evinces a high degree of genre hybridity, rendering it amenable to interpretation within a number of different literary traditions. Finally, critics of American women's nature writing have omitted consideration of nineteenth-century works because of the absence of satisfactory critical tools. Advocating the continued expansion of genres and modes in our understanding of American women's nature writing, this essay underscores the synthetic vision of nineteenth-century women writers, who are often more likely to regard nature in the context of gender politics or struggles for social amelioration than as a separate political or cultural concern. As a whole, the essay considers representations of women and nature; enlarges the tradition of American nature writing; and broadens its theoretical foundation.
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