Monstrous Women and Ecofeminism in the Victorian Gothic, 1837–1871

By Nicole C. Dittmer, Rowman & Littlefield, October 2022.

Nicole C. Dittmer offers a reimagining of the popular Gothic female “monster” figure in early-to-mid-Victorian literature. Regardless of the extensive scholarship concerning monstrosities, these pre-fin-de-siècle figurations have often been neglected by critical studies or interpreted as fragments of mind and body which create a division between culture and nature. In Monstrous Women and Ecofeminism, Dittmer deploys monism to delineate from and contest such dualism, unifies the material-immaterial aspects of fictional women, and blurs the distinction between nature-culture. Blending intertextual disciplines of medical sciences, ecofeminism, and fiction, she exposes female monstrosities as material and semiotic figurations. This book, then, identifies how women in the Victorian Gothic are informed by the entanglement of both immaterial discourses and material conditions. When repressed by social customs, the monistic mind-body of the material-semiotic figure reacts to and disrupts processes of ontology, transforming women into “wild” and “monstrous” (re)presentations.