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Scheherazade’s Daughters

The Power of Storytelling in Ecofeminist Change


Barbara Bennett

Scheherazade, the storyteller of 1001 Arabian Nights, recounts stories literally to save her people, and in Scheherazade’s Daughters, Barbara Bennett explores how contemporary female authors attempt to save their own world by telling compelling stories that disseminate ideas of justice and equality for all living things, a philosophy called ecofeminism. Bennett examines how ecofeminism works in works by Margaret Atwood ( Surfacing, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Oryx & Crake), Barbara Kingsolver ( Animal Dreams, The Poisonwood Bible, and Prodigal Summer), and Ruth Ozeki ( My Year of Meats and All over Creation).
Bennett also analyzes ecofeminism in autobiography and memoir in Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge, Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, and Sandra Steingraber’s Living Downstream. Lastly through Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits, Ana Castillo’s So Far from God, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Bennett investigates how magical realism can spread the positive ideas of ecofeminism.
This groundbreaking book dissects the power of literature to convert minds and hearts in a direction that has the potential, like Scheherazade’s stories, to change our world for the better.


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3. Barbara Kingsolver—“The Faultiest of Human Presumptions” 55


aCHAPTER THREE Barbara Kingsolver “The Faultiest of Human Presumptions” Barbara Kingsolver ranks seventy-fourth on Bernard Goldberg’s list in his book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, apparently for being one of the “cultural elites who look down their snobby noses at ‘ordinary Americans.’” Kingsolver takes this in stride and with a sense of humor, noting the infamous title “gave a certain pizzazz to my days. I thought, as I went about canning tomatoes, doing laundry, meeting the school bus, and here and there writing a novel or essay or whatever, knowing full well that kind of thing only leads to trouble” (Animal, Vegetable 236). In fact, she further comments, “When you’re seventy-fourth, you try harder” (Animal, Vegetable 236). Kingsolver has never shied away from being labeled “political.” She grew up with parents who taught her to be useful in the world, and this, according to Mary Jean DeMarr, “empelled her toward political views sympathetic to those who are poor or who are unjustly treated” (20). Kingsolver explores her views in a variety of genres: she has published novels, essays, poems, and short stories, all of which provoke readers to ask questions about themselves, their actions, and their motivations in this highly unjust and environmentally endangered world. Her earliest two novels, The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven, deal with such divergent political issues as child abuse and neglect, Native American rights and identity, poverty, class prejudice, women’s rights, and the environmental ravages we have beget upon the land. Scheherazade’s...

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