Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Co-chair

Bob Baker, Louise Economides

Commitee Members

Deborah Slicer


Chris Cuomo, ecofeminism, ecopoetics, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Heidegger, phenomenology, poetry, wonder


University of Montana


Emily Dickinson’s nature poems and Henry David Thoreau’s great poem of Walden enact patterns of human relationship with the natural world, patterns that resound in our living interactions with nature. In their efforts to valorize alternative, relational perceptions of human self, Dickinson and Thoreau demonstrate an ecopoetics that accords with an ecofeminist phenomenology, a critical praxis that resists logics of domination and recognizes the interdependency and reciprocity between individuals and their ecological communities. This study of Dickinson and Thoreau is born of a desire to understand what ecological feminist Chris Cuomo calls “an ethic of flourishing,” or living to honor the well-being of individuals, species and communities. My approach to “an ethic of flourishing” takes shape in three reciprocal movements that evoke truth in human dwelling: dwelling in poetry, dwelling in the body, and dwelling in the world. Each movement assumes its meaning through the acute philosophy of Martin Heidegger and through emerging articulations of an ecofeminist phenomenology. I argue that the environmental ethic of wonder and the ecofeminist expression of the human being as a “self-in-relationship” offer an essential opening into Heidegger’s conception of authentic dwelling. I invoke Dickinson and Thoreau as contributors to our modern environmental discourse because their ecological poetry suggests diverse, flexible definitions of being human that we can hold in our hands and on our tongues as we come to define a relational ecological ethic.

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© Copyright 2009 Veronica Ellen Vold