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Women and Scotland

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Marie-Odile Pittin-Hedon

Contemporary Scottish Women’s literature

Women Writing the Wild

Camille Manfredi

Résumé

By considering how ecofeminism serves to reclaim the archetype of the Wise or Wild Woman, the Land and the Narrative, this contribution focuses on a selection of recent works by Linda Cracknell, Kathleen Jamie and Hanna Tuulikki. It does so with a view to analysing the current trend in contemporary Scottish women’s ecoliterature and art to re-investigate Celtic mythology and revive the archetype of the Wild Woman and neo-pagan figure of the Eco-Heroine. These serve as a basis for questioning the re-writing of the Scottish Wild into either home ground or myth, parallel to the process of reclamation or, conversely, rejection of the Jungian archetype of the Good (Earth) Mother.

Texte intégral

  • 1 The term is understood as part of the feminist environmental philosophy that holds nature as a femi (...)

1The title for this contribution was borrowed from the creative retreat and residential women writing course “Singing Over the Bones: Women Writing from the Wild” that was run by writer, editor and mythologist Sharon Blackie in April 2013 at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre. Yet the present contribution might as well have been titled “Women in the field” after Kathleen Jamie’s Sightlines, “Women of the Hill” after Hanna Tuulikki’s recent site/Skye-specific outdoor performance, or again “Scottish women writers rising rooted” after Blackie’s 2016 ecofeminist memoir. When you look at contemporary Scottish nature writing and environmental art, whether these works pertain to ecofeminism1 or not, you might be under the false impression that there are currently many more women than men who are not just roaming the Scottish outdoors but also writing, singing, performing about their experience of what I will – for now – term the “Wild”. The latter is admittedly a construct that reveals at least as historically and politically charged as that of “womanhood”, that of the “wild woman” thus being potentially twice as controversial. One will even want to blow the whistle on the underlying essentialism of the archetype of the wise or wild woman – the Celtic woman who, in Sharon Blackie’s own words, could save herself and the world from environmental catastrophe by re-learning “to sing with the tongues of seals, fly with the wings of swans, or rise up rooted like trees” (Blackie 19).

  • 2 “In ecofeminist literature’s concern for the nonhuman, one could foresee feminist theory’s ‘materia (...)

2Several broad objections may be raised as to the definition of nature as women’s true sphere: first, the implication that culture is, conversely, male; secondly, that such differentialism tends to essentialise both femininity and masculinity; thirdly, that the connection of women and nature might reveal exclusionary; finally, that by trying to escape the hegemonic androcentric master narrative, ecofeminist writers might end up forming another master narrative, only this time a gynocentric one. However questionable the validity of both ecofeminist and materialist feminist theories2 may appear to some, these approaches to the allegedly intrinsic connection between women and nature raise interesting issues as to the ecopoetic and teleological value of the works that have been produced by women artists in Scotland in the past few years.

3Sharon Blackie’s 2013 retreat week offered its female participants to “reconnect with their own wild selves as well as the landscape”, to “wonder about their place in it”, to “map and deepen their connections with place, the natural world, and the non-human others” through “an imaginal and physical immersion” into the Scottish landscape (note the singular form) and “a journey of re-enchantment which [would] lead them back to their place of belonging”. When reading the programme as well as the many works on the subject of Scottish ecofeminism, I was puzzled by the notion that the whole endeavour is about re-connecting with the land, journeying back to nature, re-claiming something that has been lost, whether this something is the Wise or Wild Woman (leading me to wonder what it takes to be that woman), the Land (but which land are we talking about?) or the Narrative (with a capital N, begging the question of what this Narrative is about). This contribution thus offers to tackle these issues one at a time and in this specific order, by focusing on a selection of recent works by the peripatetic writers Linda Cracknell and Kathleen Jamie, and vocal artist Hanna Tuulikki. These will serve as a basis for questioning the re-writing of the Scottish Wild into either home ground or myth, parallel to the process of reclamation or, on the contrary, rejection of the Jungian archetype of the Good (Earth) Mother.

Reclaiming the Wild Woman?

  • 3 Dwelly’s Scots Gaelic – English Dictionary defines the noun “Cailleach” as follows: “Woman, single (...)

4In a general context which is one of environmentalisation of the artistic and academic approach to land, space and place, there is currently a trend in contemporary Scottish women’s ecoliterature and art to re-investigate Celtic mythology and revive the archetype of the Wise-Wild Woman and neo-pagan figures of the Eco-Heroine; this is for instance the topic of Sharon Blackie’s recent monograph If Women Rose Rooted: The Power of the Celtic Woman (2016). The spiritual pan-Celtic perspective on nature and renewed interest in Celtic goddess figures and genius loci also permeates Jay Griffiths’s Wild: an Elemental Journey (2006) and Janet Paisley’s novel Warrior Daughter (2009); the latter tells the story of an Iron Age warrior princess inspired by Boudicca and by Scathach, the warrior queen who instructed Cúchulainn, who gave the Cuillin of Skye their name. The most recurrent figure, however, remains Cailleach3, the Crone Goddess, mother of all gods, protector of the land and Queen of Winter. Cailleach’s most striking feature is that she is a land-shaping goddess, dropping mountains from her creel and hammering hills and glens into shape. The allegory of the tectonic power of the land itself, Cailleach appears as the figure of the anima mundi, the Spirit of the Earth, and thus as the ultimate female figure to which the French title for the 2016 SFEEc conference – Ces femmes qui font l’Écosse – points at. In contemporary Scottish literature and arts then, you may meet Cailleach in the guise of a fellow hillwalker, as Linda Cracknell does in her collection of walking essays Doubling Back:

I’d seen the woman I hope to be in my 70’s and she’d seen someone she used to be. As she headed northeast past Cill Chriosd and up the valley to Bradford, I knew that a tall broad hill would watch the bus pass at its feet along the single track road. I began to understand that in her simplest form, the cailliche represents a different stage of life. I thought of this woman as my cailliche, and I no longer felt afraid.
Cracknell 206.

  • 4 http://hannatuulikkdiary.tumblr.com/post/134116138746/cloud-cuckoo-island
  • 5 http://www.hannatuulikki.org/portfolio/mnemonic-topographies-heart-to-heart/

5You will be encouraged by Sharon Blackie to “embrace [Cailleach’s] call” and retrieve “the buried feminine” that lies there in the moor and bog, waiting to be reborn at the turn of the season. And who knows, you may come across Cailleach herself, as did those who, at sunset on the 31st of October 2015, on Samhain, attended Hanna Tuulikki’s vocal, gestural, cryptographic, “archaeoacoustic” re-enactment of the mythical battle between Cailleach and Bride, the Maiden of Spring. “Women of the Hill” took place on the archaeological site at High Pasture Cave on the Isle of Skye, where the remains of an Iron Age woman were discovered in 1972. The site-specific performance pertained to gender archaeology, geomythology and what Tuulikki terms “mnemonic topography”. “Women of the Hill” is then, in the artist’s own words, a work that “investigates the land encoded in the song, the lore embedded in the land”, and “a performance that makes visible what has lain hidden and makes audible what has been forgotten, re-sounding, re-imagining, and resinging forgotten traditions”. While celebrating a “forgotten” matriarchal culture and “honouring” or re-awakening the subdued, “buried” feminine, Tuulikki thus literally (em) places her art in between the eco-phenomenology of David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous, 1997) and the ecofeminist interest in gynomorphic landscapes as well as in origin and cosmogonic myths borrowed from Celtic folklore. The mythical embodiment of matrilocality, Cailleach has been a recurrent figure in Tuulikki’s performances; see for instance her Eigg-based, very Jungian “Cloud Cuckoo Island” (2015), a re-enactment of Sweeney’s predicament where Cailleach “mourns for the severance of humanity from the wild earth4”, or her keening, sonic and “vocal offerings” to Glen Caillich as part of the “Heart-to-Heart” project5 (2014), in collaboration with poet Alec Finlay. I offer to see, in Tuulikki’s place-responsive art, more than just the fulfilment of sacred rituals: embedded in what Abram famously termed “the more-than-human world” and Patrick Curry the politics of an ecocentric, “post-secular nature”, Tuulikki’s performances also aim at re-locating the female voice in the Scottish landscape as well as in its historical and cultural circumstances by recovering idioms of land that are continuous with ancient forms, and turning (or re-turning) the outdoors into a production workshop and permanent residency for the female artist. Clearly designed to be read and seen as a mnemographic endeavour, Tuulikki’s art thus seeks to re-territorialise a distinct voice and corporeity that used to be there and no longer is, but that can still be conjured by either verbal or non-verbal constructs.

6But to return to the figure of Cailleach: she is also the “shawl-happed” woman with whom “the world began” of Kathleen Jamie’s poem “The Creel” in The Tree House, here reproduced in full:

The world began with a woman,
shawl-happed, stooped under a creel, whose slow step you recognize
from troubled dreams. You feel

obliged to help her bear her burden
from hill or kelp-strewn shore,
but she passes by unseeing
thirled to her private chore.

It’s not sea birds or peat she’s carrying,
not fleece, nor the herring bright
but her fear that if ever she put it down
the world would go out like a light.
Jamie, The Tree House 45

  • 6 On the ecofeminism of “Bairns of Suzie”, see Gairn, Louisa, Ecology and Modern Scottish Literature, (...)

7In this poem that could easily be retitled “The Wild Woman’s Burden”, Jamie expresses doubts as to the validity of the woman-as-creator-and-protector-of-the-land archetype. She insists on the enslaving rather than empowering “chore” that was assigned to her. Jamie’s earlier poetry lends itself to perfectly valid ecofeminist readings and indeed demonstrate what Kaye Kossick termed a “gender-specific form of antisyzygy” (Kossick 198); we might think of poems such as “The Queen of Sheba”, “Bairns of Suzie: a hex6”, “The Fountain”, etc. Her more recent pieces however tend to eschew the temptation of magic, of folklorisation and over-genderization of Scottish culture; see “The Whales” in The Overhaul ( “down there it’s impossible to breathe”, Jamie, The Overhaul 46), or “The Hinds” in The Bonniest Companie, a collection that is haunted by the beguiling shapeshifters escaped from the medieval Scottish ballad Tam Lin. In this poem, the persona is “walking in a waking dream” across a neglected pastoral landscape and a land “held on a long lease” only inhabited by a herd of nineteen deer. At the end of the poem,

…] they stopped, and turned to stare,
the foremost with a queenly air
as though to say: Aren’t we

the bonniest companie?
Come to me,
you’ll be happy, but never go home.
Jamie, The Bonniest Companie 25

8“The Hinds” lends itself to many interpretations. It can be read as a nature poem, but also as a political piece, a poem about gender and land use, about borders closed and open, about thresholds between different worlds (real, imaginary, human, nonhuman, androcentric, gynocentric, other-, inner, outer, past, present, future…), but also different (narrative, lyrical, fabulist…) poetic genres, each of them offering a different gateway into the elusive “home” of the final verse. Yet and as a matter of fact, the hind’s invitation had already been declined in the opening poem of The Tree House, “The Wishing Tree”, in what very much sounds like the nature poet’s credo and own definition of “home”:

I stand neither in the wilderness / nor fairyland // but in the green fold / of a green hill // the tilt from one parish / into another.
Jamie, The Tree House 3.

9The terms “wilderness, fairyland, hill and parish” lead me to my second point: if one is to “reclaim the land”, what is this land (assuming that there shall be just one), and where does it lie?

Reclaiming the Land?

10Rather than explore the holistic, therapeutic, transitional and gynomorphic landscapes celebrated by ecofeminism – wells, shores, caves, and the like – many are the women nature writers who now choose to de-romanticise, demythologise and generally de-fantasize the perceptions of Scotland as pastoral, unspoilt or rugged. If Jamie turns her back on “Fairyland”, she is even more critical of the whole concept of the wilderness, as testified by her comments on the publication of Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places (2007). In an interview she gave to the Scottish Review of Books in 2012:

  • 7 https://www.scottishreviewofbooks.org/2012/06/the-srb-interview-kathleen-jamie/

[Robert Macfarlane] came up from Cambridge into the Celtic countries, Scotland and Ireland in particular, and went around saying, ‘it’s so wild’. It’s so not! He said, very eloquently, very lyrically, that it’s empty. There he was, striding alone across this wild empty landscape. […] Well, we know the reason why places are empty. And that’s only recently. There’ve been mesolithic people, neolithic people, bronze age people. These landscapes have been humanised for thousands of years. There’s nothing wild in this country. […] I thought the project seemed like an act of colonial adventuring: strike north into ‘wildness’ and then scuttle back to Cambridge.7

  • 8 See how Wendy Harding characterises the new American literature of place, in terms that might as we (...)
  • 9 See Jay Griffiths’s introduction to Wild. An Elemental Journey: “I wanted nothing to do with the he (...)

11Here Kathleen Jamie is pointing the finger not just at Macfarlane, but above all at two prejudiced conceptions of nature: first, that it is necessarily vacant – i.e. Wendy Harding’s “myth of the empty8” that is by no means a prerogative of the American literature of place –, and secondly that nature is only accessible to the solitary male who communes with it through feats of physical endurance and mental toughness. The construction of barrenness that Jamie most interestingly qualifies as both macho and “colonial” does indeed entail the erasure of human history and of the native inhabitants of a place that is then conveniently trodden upon as some pristine, ahistorical terra incognita to be “discovered” by he who proves worthy of it. Although this seems to be a feature of women’s nature writing both North and South of the Borders9, in this particular case that the terra incognita is Scotland and the “he” in question English did not help much.

  • 10 In July 2016, Linda Cracknell tutored a creative writing course on Jessie Kesson at Moniack Mhor Cr (...)

12Many are the (women) writers who then seek to re-view and re-walk the allegedly “wild” lands of Scotland, as well as to re-invent an inclusive sense of place and integrative oikos through poetical, but also physical intervention. We might think of Kathleen Jamie’s Sightlines (2012) and Findings (2005), of Linda Cracknell’s Doubling Back (2014), as well as of a series of place-inspired creative writing courses and projects involving “walking in the footsteps of” literary forebears such as Nan Shepherd or Jessie Kesson, to mention but these two10. Indeed, these situational narratives and first-hand experiences of space prove indebted to the form of mental stravaiging, active meditation and enhanced consciousness professed by Nan Shepherd’s “journey into being”. The journey often starts with a sense of loss and “separation”, as stated by Margaret Elphinstone in her contribution to Cracknell’s collection A Wilder Vein:

The very fact I’ve wanted to climb these hills, and needed to write about them, is a measure of my separation from them. Maybe that’s all my accounts do – express the depth of my separation. There should be sorrow in that, but the project has nearly always been one of great joy – a sense of getting back to a place that had been forgotten.
Elphinstone, “Walking the Edges” in Cracknell 2009: 195

  • 11 The coinage is Glenn Albrecht’s and is meant as environmentally-induced distress.
  • 12 “Deer helped me on this walk, where the way was soft and the paths laid by streaming cattle had bee (...)

13Like most walker-writers nowadays, Elphinstone then proceeds to make clear that this “forgotten place” is anything but “untouched wilderness” (195) or “primeval territory” (204). While walking along the Chisholm Trail or past the ruins of shielings in the Highlands, the essayists, nature writers, poets and artists thus demonstrate a common desire to self-relocate in a land that used to be lived in and that bears the marks of history – most specifically, those of the Clearances. Secondly, the outdoors ought not to turn into a museum or locus of paralysing nostalgia or solastalgia11 : although at times permeated by a sense of the Unheimlich, what these landscapes bear are the objectual traces and operators of spatiality that allow a sense of mutual recognition between different (interestingly, gendered) peripatetic groups, whether these are non-human (a herd of deer and hinds12) or human, as with the long-departed herdswomen whose presence-absence Linda Cracknell senses as she passes the ruins of abandoned summer shelters in Skye:

Passing sheilings reduced to tumbled stone and still surrounded by an oasis of green in the high glens, I sometimes fancy I glimpse faces from the corner of an eye, or catch the murmur of voices – curious at a traveller passing. But they didn’t discomfort me as the relics left from the deliberate clearance of people from the Highlands do, perhaps because sheilings were always intended to be temporary.
Cracknell, Doubling Back 208

14The point, then, is not so much to reclaim “the land” but to reclaim a journey across a communal and relational space; what Louisa Gairn terms the “bodily ecopoetics” of place (Gairn 186) is to rest on a collectively reinvented Foucaldian “space of [transient] emplacement”, in other words a form of hodologic heterotopia that would make it possible to re-connect with the land through the practice of transience and the experience of deliberate liminality. “The land” as immediate locality is therefore not to be “re-conquered”, but rather engaged with in a sensuous way, through the perception of depth, weight and matter – φύσις, the stuff or “fabric” of nature – and the acceptance that one is at once reclaiming the land and being reclaimed by it. This idea that the land is sentient and expressive leads me to my third point:

Reclaiming the Narrative?

15Cracknell and Jamie’s consistent interest in ruins (of shielings in the Highlands, of deserted crofts on St Kilda, etc.) that are indicative of long-gone relational geographies suggests that this palimpsestual land is to be read rather than told, and that for it to be able to mean and signify, it has to be un-written first. The nature or environmental writer will then be cautious to offer “relational, place-based, non-authoritative, and non-anthropocentric models” (Ryan 822) – non-androcentric models, for that matter; she will then strive to “find a voice that does not lose sight of authentic connectedness with nature, in the process of exposing the language of the idyll” (Terry Gifford 55). This implies emancipating the narrative from all-too convenient pre-existing pastoral and romantic tropes, which is – also – easier said than done, as shown in Jamie’s apologetic aside in Findings: “the surging sea, the wind, the cliffs’ bulk against the night-sky were (forgive me) sublime” (Jamie, Findings 26).

16I offer to consider Jamie’s approach to nature (to the “green fold” of “The Wishing Tree”) in the light of Augustin Berque’s concept of “médiance” (Berque, 1990); by which Berque means the intermediation between the objective and the subjective, between the human body and its historical, social and ecological milieu, also between the aesthetic appreciation of landscape and an effective, practical engagement with nature; that is, between word and world. This is maybe best expressed in Jamie’s much-quoted author’s statement, in which she insists that she is writing not “about” but “toward” the land. The idea that both her poetry and her essays operate in a forward motion is consistent with the ecopoetics of a language that would “enact, rather than merely represent, the immediate, embodied experience of nonhuman nature” (Knickerbocker 17). A concept that comes in handy here is Edward Soja’s “trialectices of spatiality-historicality-sociability” (Soja 57) or “thirdspace” where “everything comes together”:

subjectivity and objectivity, the abstract and the concrete, the real and the imagined, the knowable and the unimaginable, the repetitive and the differential, structure and agency, mind and body, consciousness and the unconscious, the disciplined and the transdisciplinary, everyday life and unending history.
Soja 56-57

17This thirdspace then calls for what I am tempted to term a “thirdnarrative” or, after Giorgio Agamben, an “opennarrative” that would collapse the enduring dichotomies between roaming and dwelling, self and other, the human and the non-human (or other-than-human, or more-than-human), presence and absence, subject and object, the sacred and the profane, the sublime and the trivial, physical and inner landscapes – a narrative in which everything and everyone would also come together: hinds, Cailleach, Aphrodite, herdswomen, hillwalkers, jellyfish and the Queen of Sheba.

  • 13 “Who wants to write about nation all the bloody time? To write through it, take it for granted – de (...)

18Kathleen Jamie’s ecopoetic works may then be evolving toward what Nirmal Selvamony terms an “oikopoetics” (Selvamony, 2007) of space by applying the principles of David Abram’s sensuous “reinhabitation” (Abram, 1997); both rely on a spatial-ontological re-mapping of the point of contact between different realms, but also between different conceptions of nature, be they eco-, anthropo-, andro- or gynocentric. If I may twist Janice Galloway’s words13, who wants to write about gender all the bloody time? Hence, perhaps, the diplomatic, consensual aesthetics of the “almost”, of the “not-yet”, of the “neither-nor” and of the “tilt” of Jamie’s “Wishing Tree” – see, also, the recurrence of “almost” phrases in “The Glass-Hulled Boat”, “Basking Shark”, “The Falcon” (in The Tree House), or John Burnside’s “Peregrine” in the aptly-titled collection All One Breath (2014). The list could go on at some length.

  • 14 “Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle (...)
  • 15 See the “Walking art and women: It’s infuriating to be invisible” project conceived by artists Amy (...)
  • 16 American ecocritic Don Scheese is cautious to differentiate the “hard” from the “soft pastoral”: th (...)
  • 17 “The shallow ecology movement is anthropocentric, that is, it has a humans-first value system. The (...)

19By way of temporary conclusion, and however commonplace this may sound: the proliferation of alternative mindscapes, ecospiritual and emotional approaches to the wildness of Scottish nature demonstrates that without being necessarily on the frontline of Edward Said’s “struggle over geography14” as many ecofeminists contend, women writers are certainly not “outside or beyond” it, just as they are not outside or beyond the struggle over memory. But, and that is one of the issues I have with the implications of ecofeminism, why should they ever be? Of course the discursive and aesthetic construct of the land and the landscape of Scotland is key to the ongoing debate on (or struggle over) national identity – but then again, “who wants to write about nation all the bloody time?” In other words, to provide a gender-neutral response to this struggle does not imply that this response is not gender-inflected. I would argue that, because women writers and artists may be just a little more sensitive to the issue of visibility15 than their male counterparts, they prove even more distrustful of the whole concept of the Wild, that “seductive appeal of the imaginary blank space on the map” (Harding, 2014: 191). This does not mean that women writers are “better” environmentalists, or that environmentalists who happen to be female are “better” feminists, or that gynocentric forms of nationalism are more valid than others. There is however something at work here that seeks to articulate national, global, environmental issues and reconcile what ecocritic Don Scheese terms the “hard” and the “soft” pastoral16, what Arne Ness calls “deep” and “shallow” ecology17, but also hard and soft feminism, deep and shallow nationalism. These are hard times for dreamers, yet there is still a glimmer of hope (at least in the poems, narratives and artworks under scrutiny) that Nan Shepherd’s “journey into being” can be completed, and that it will lead to a land that would no longer need to be reclaimed, where the rights of women, men, non-humans would no longer need to be asserted, where all exclusive -isms would be obviated. Apparently we are not there yet.

Bibliographie

Bibliography

Abram, David, The Spell of the Sensuous. Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

Adams, Carol J. and Lori Gruen (eds.), Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth, New York: Bloomsbury, 2014.

Berque, Augustin, Médiance, de milieux en paysages, Paris: Belin, 1990.

Blackie, Sharon, If Women Rose Rooted. The Power of the Celtic Woman, Lamberhurst: September Publishing, 2016.

Christianson, Aileen and Alison Lumsden (eds.), Contemporary Scottish Women Writers, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000.

Compte-Sponville, André, Albert Jacquard, Théodore Monot et al., Ecologie et spiritualité, Paris: Albin Michel, 2002.

Craknell, Linda, A Wilder Vein, Ullapool: Two Ravens Press, 2009.

Cracknell, Linda, Doubling Back. Ten Paths Trodden in Memory, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014.

Curry, Patrick, “Post-Secular Nature: Principles and Politics”, in Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion, Number 11, 2007, 284-304.

Fossard, Lee, “La Vieille (Groac’h / Cailleach) dans les noms de lieux et la littérature orale: figure mythologique fédératrice des cultures bretonnes et écossaises”, in Manfredi, Camille and Byrne, Michel (eds.), Bretagne-Écosse: contacts, transferts et dissonances / Brittany-Scotland: Contacts, Transfers and Dissonances, Brest: CRBC, 2017, 81-97.

Gaard, Greta and Patrick D. Murphy, Ecofeminist Literary Criticism. Theory, Interpretation, Pedagogy, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1998.

Gairn, Louisa, Ecology and Modern Scottish Literature, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.

Gifford, Douglas and Dorothy McMillan (eds.), A History of Scottish Women’s Writing, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997.

Gifford, Terry, Green Voices, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995.

Griffiths, Jay, Wild. An Elemental Journey, London: Penguin, [2006] 2008.

Haraway, Donna J., Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature, London: Free Association Books, 1991.

Jamie, Kathleen, The Tree House, London: Picador, 2004.

Jamie, Kathleen, Findings, London: Sort of Books, 2005.

Jamie, Kathleen, The Overhaul, London: Picador, 2012.

Jamie, Kathleen, The Bonniest Companie, London: Picador, 2015.

Knickerbocker, Scott, Ecopoetics: The Language of Nature, the Nature of Language, Amherst, MA: University of Massachussetts Press, 2012.

Kossick, Kaye, “Roaring Girls, Bogie Wives, and the Queen of Sheba: Dissidence, Desire and Dreamwork in the Poetry of Kathleen Jamie,” Studies in Scottish Literature: Vol. 32: Iss. 1, 2001, pp. 195-212, Available at: http://scholarcommons.sc.edu/ssl/vol32/iss1/18.

Kostkowska, Justyna, Ecocriticism and Women Writers. Environmentalist Poetics of Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson, and Ali Smith, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Naess, Arne, Ecology of Wisdom, London: Penguin, 2008, 2016.

Paisley, Janet, Warrior Daughter, London: Penguin, 2009.

Ryan, John Charles, “Narrative Environmental Ethics, Nature Writing, and Ecological Science as Tradition: Towards a Sponsoring Ground of Concern” in Philosophy Study Volume 2, No.11, 2012, pp.822-834, Available at: http://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1633&context=ecuworks2012

Said, Edward, Culture and Imperialism, New York: Knopf, 1993.

Scheese, Don, Nature Writing. The Pastoral Impulse in America, New York: Routledge, 2002.

Selvamony, Nirmal, Nirmaldasan and Rayson, K. Alex (eds.), Essays in Ecocriticism, New Delhi: OSLE India and Sarup and Sons, 2007.

Soja, Edward, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places, Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1996.

Notes

1 The term is understood as part of the feminist environmental philosophy that holds nature as a feminist issue. The word “ecofeminism” was coined by Françoise D’Eaubonne in 1974. Early ecofeminism explored the structural connection between the exploitation of nonhuman animals and the patriarchal structure; as for modern ecofeminists, they contend that discrimination against women intersects with other logics of domination, such as heteronormativity, colonialism, etc. See Adams, Carol J. and Lori Gruen (eds.), Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth, New York: Bloomsbury, 2014.

2 “In ecofeminist literature’s concern for the nonhuman, one could foresee feminist theory’s ‘material turn’ that would eventually lead to new materialist feminisms. They share some common interests and features; they both want to rethink the environment and what constitutes it, but from different angles. On the one hand, ecofeminism is more oriented towards understanding structural oppression of women and nature, including animals, while new materialism wants to reconceptualize agency precisely by looking at the posthuman and the transhuman.” Casselot Marie-Anne, “Ecofeminist Echoes in New Materialism?”, PhænEx 11, no. 1 (spring/summer 2016): 73-96, http://phaenex.uwindsor.ca/ojs/leddy/index.php/phaenex/article/view/4394

3 Dwelly’s Scots Gaelic – English Dictionary defines the noun “Cailleach” as follows: “Woman, single woman, old woman. Old wife. Woman without offspring. Nun. Carlin. Supernatural or malign influence dwelling in dark caves, woods and corries. Coward, spiritless, heartless man. The last handful of standing corn on a farm. Circular wisp on the top of a corn-stack.” The author wishes to thank Pr. Jean Berton for his help in this matter. See also Lee Fossard, “La Vieille (Groac’h / Cailleach) dans les noms de lieux et la littérature orale: figure mythologique fédératrice des cultures bretonnes et écossaises”, in Manfredi, Camille and Byrne Michel (eds.), Bretagne-Écosse: contacts, transferts et dissonances / Brittany-Scotland: Contacts, Transfers and Dissonances, Brest: CRBC, 2017, pp. 81-97.

4 http://hannatuulikkdiary.tumblr.com/post/134116138746/cloud-cuckoo-island

5 http://www.hannatuulikki.org/portfolio/mnemonic-topographies-heart-to-heart/

6 On the ecofeminism of “Bairns of Suzie”, see Gairn, Louisa, Ecology and Modern Scottish Literature, Edinburgh University Press, 2008,.177-178.

7 https://www.scottishreviewofbooks.org/2012/06/the-srb-interview-kathleen-jamie/

8 See how Wendy Harding characterises the new American literature of place, in terms that might as well apply, word for word, to its Scottish counterpart: “The writers search for tangible traces, ruins, vestiges, or remains that prove that something existed that has been effaced, displaced, or reconstructed, or they identify gaps and discontinuities in the web of appearances that create entrance points into buried histories. They search for the traces of diverse frequentation that challenge the sterile reproduction of the same cultural sign. In designating places as empty, the dominant culture denies their diversity, but, at the same time, it inscribes that denial conspicuously and brutally on the land.” (Harding 2014: 15) Wendy Harding, The Myth of Emptiness and the New American Literature of Place, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2014.

9 See Jay Griffiths’s introduction to Wild. An Elemental Journey: “I wanted nothing to do with the heroics of the ‘solo expedition.’There was no mountain I wanted to ‘conquer, ’ no desert I wanted to be the ‘first woman to cross.’ I simply wanted to know something of the landscapes I visited and wanted to do that by listening to what the knowers of those lands could tell me if I asked. I was exasperated (to put it mildly) by the way that so many writers in the Euro-American tradition would write reams on wilderness without asking the opinions of those who lived there, the native or indigenous people who have a different word for wilderness: home. I was angered by the nineteenth-century Europeans who called a landscape a ‘hideous blank’ and who, knowing nothing of the land, ascribed their ignorance into it.” (Griffiths 3).

10 In July 2016, Linda Cracknell tutored a creative writing course on Jessie Kesson at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre. The “place-inspired” workshop almost perfectly replicated the project that was at the core of Doubling Back: “Jessie Kesson: Words in the Landscape” included a walk through the landscape of Abriachan, “tracing the footsteps of Jessie Kesson” and was followed by a writing session. During autumn and winter 2013-2014, as part of the Hielan’Ways project, London-based walking artist, performer, and producer Simone Kenyon thus led a group of walkers along the former trading routes of the North East of Scotland “in the footsteps of Nan Shepherd’s sensibility”.

11 The coinage is Glenn Albrecht’s and is meant as environmentally-induced distress.

12 “Deer helped me on this walk, where the way was soft and the paths laid by streaming cattle had been lost. Their subtle communal tracks led to crossing points on burns and found the harder ground on the sides of valleys. The animals showed themselves in a leap across my path, a roar filtered through mist on a hillside, a head turning over a shoulder before it galloped away.” (Cracknell, Doubling Back 189-90)

13 “Who wants to write about nation all the bloody time? To write through it, take it for granted – dear me yes.” Janice Galloway, The Edinburgh Review, 1999: 70-71.

14 “Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.” (Said 7)

15 See the “Walking art and women: It’s infuriating to be invisible” project conceived by artists Amy Sharrocks and Clare Qualmann in July 2016. The project aimed to “address the absence of female artists within the canon of ‘walking art’”; https://www.a-n.co.uk/news/walking-art-and-women-its-infuriating-to-be-invisible

16 American ecocritic Don Scheese is cautious to differentiate the “hard” from the “soft pastoral”: the “hard pastoral” aestheticises “terrain with little or no historic evidence of human manipulation [that] constitutes wilderness”, whereas the “soft pastoral” celebrates a more managed version of nature that we shall call, with Scheese, “wildness”. (Scheese 7-8).

17 “The shallow ecology movement is anthropocentric, that is, it has a humans-first value system. The deep ecology movement principles specifically emphasize respect for the intrinsic worth of all beings (from microbes to elephants and humans) and treasure all forms of biological and cultural diversity.” (Naess 27).

Auteur

Professor of Scottish Studies at the University of Nantes. Her published work includes the monographs Alasdair Gray: le faiseur d’Écosse (Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2012) and Nature and Space in Contemporary Scottish Writing and Art (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

© Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2020

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