During Margaret Fuller’s travels through Europe, she wrote dispatches for the Tribune where she uses female pronouns in reference to land. This was interesting given that the lands she wrote about were under political turmoil. The connection she establishes between bodies of land and bodies of women is significant for conversations about female agency, not only within Fuller scholarship but perhaps, more ambitiously, within feminist criticism, at large. The tradition of feminizing land, such as referring to Rome as a “she,” relates to the abuse of bodies of women. Fuller’s awareness of this tradition allows her to subvert it in ways that resist it.
The treatment of land, such as claiming ownership of it, transcends the physical property to the patriarchal ideologies that women’s bodies can be owned. Fuller’s dispatches becomes more than just land, taking on the body of a woman and in result, encouraging the ideologies that bodies of women can be used like bodies of land. Nayanika Mookherjee’s research, the concept of feminizing land works to embody land into the shape of a woman, thus making women’s bodies represent nationhood, placing women in the same ideology of conquerable bodies of land.
Her dispatches speaks to larger conversations of victimization of land and women to raise awareness about gendered language. I place Mary Hawkesworth’s research on feminist rhetoric in conjecture with Fuller’s work to articulate that Fuller was aware of the tradition of feminizing land and uses that to her benefit. Through feminizing lands, patriarchal ideologies that bodies of women can be colonized is akin to the ideology that bodies of land are conquerable. In analyzing the tradition of feminizing land, we become aware of how it is affecting women in society and thus, how to push back against it in the same ways Margaret Fuller does.
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2 November 2019
- Date submitted
19 July 2022