Gaard has applied ecofeminist theory to both literary criticism and composition instruction, thereby contributing feminist insights to the emerging fields of ecocriticism and ecocomposition.
Ecofeminist Literary Criticism: Theory, Interpretation, Pedagogy, edited by Gaard and Patrick D. Murphy, was the first anthology to examine not only how ecofeminist theory might enhance literary criticism but also how close reading of texts might inform ecofeminist theory and activist practice. This development in ecocriticism was welcomed by scholars who, along with Simon C. Estok, believe that "if ecocriticism is to have any effect outside of the narrow confines of academia, then it must not only define itself but also address the issue of values in ways that connect meaningfully with the non-academic world."
Gaard's widely cited contribution to Ecocomposition: Theoretical and Practical Approaches similarly argues for the activist applications of scholarly theory, asserting that "at its most inclusive, ecocomposition has the potential to address social issues such as feminism, environmental ethics, multiculturalism, politics, and economics, all by examining matters of form and style, audience and argumentation, and reliable sources and documentation."
"One of the most influential ecofeminist scholars," Gaard has extended ecofeminist theory by mapping linkages with queer theory and by compiling ecofeminist ideas concerning vegetarianism and animal liberation.
Prior to Gaard's germinal 1997 article, "Toward a Queer Ecofeminism," published first in the scholarly journal Hypatia and then anthologized in Perspectives on Environmental Justice, Gender, Sexuality, and Activism, ecofeminism and queer theory were separate realms within feminism. As Gaard writes in her introduction to that piece,
Although many ecofeminists acknowledge heterosexism as a problem, a systematic exploration of the potential intersections of ecofeminist and queer theories has yet to be made. By interrogating social constructions of the "natural," the various uses of Christianity as a logic of domination, and the rhetoric of colonialism, this essay finds those intersections and argues for the importance of developing a queer ecofeminism.
Numerous scholars have since drawn upon that essay in formulating their theories. Gaard's 1993 anthology, Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature also introduced new theoretical intersections. As Gaard noted in her introduction to the pieces collected in that work, "in the three anthologies published at the time of this writing, ecofeminism has failed to locate animals as central to any discussion of ethics involving women and nature." Gaard followed up that anthology with a 2003 review of vegetarian ecofeminist thought.
As an activist, Gaard participated in the Green movement for more than a decade. In 1993, she was among the founders of the Minnesota Green Party. In 1994, she documented ecofeminist participation in the Greens in the video documentary, Thinking Green: Ecofeminists and the Greens. Gaard's 1998 book, Ecological Politics: Ecofeminists and the Greens, draws upon interviews with scores of participants to tell the story of the controversial transition of the Green movement into a national political party from multiple perspectives, concluding that
Ecofeminists can learn from the Greens and from the work of ecofeminists in the Greens. A radically democratic movement for social and environmental justice will be larger than ecofeminism and larger than the Greens. Yet we can only bring about that movement by working with and through our communities--and our communities will always be partial, unrepresentative, incomplete. Only the coalition of a variety of progressive communities will bring about the transformations needed to articulate a radical democracy, and in that coalition, an ecofeminist vision will find expression.
Gaard also has published fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction as well as critical essays in non-scholarly publications. Her 2007 book, The Nature of Home, collects several works of creative nonfiction centered on the question of ecological connections to and within places.
Gaard was a member of the now-inactive Feminists for Animal Rights, publishing some essays in the FAR newsletter.
BooksThe Nature of Home: Taking Root in a Place.' University of Arizona Press, 2007.
Ecological Politics: Ecofeminists and the Greens. Temple University Press, 1998.
Ecofeminist Literary Criticism (Editor, with Patrick Murphy). University of Illinois Press, 1998.
Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature (Editor). Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.
Chapters“Ecofeminism and Animals.” pp. 647–53 in Encyclopedia of Animals and Humans, ed. Marc Bekoff. Vol. 2. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007.
"Toward a Queer Ecofeminism." pp. 21–44. In New Perspectives on Environmental Justice, Gender, Sexuality, and Activism. Ed. Rachel Stein. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2004.
“Ecofeminism and EcoComposition.” pp. 163–178. In Ecocomposition: Theoretical and Practical Approaches. Ed. Sid Dobrin and Christian Weisser. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001.
"Identity Politics as a Comparative Poetics." pp. 230–43. In Borderwork: Feminist Engagements with Comparative Literature. Ed. Margaret Higonnet. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994.
Peer-reviewed articlesEcofeminism Revisited: Rejecting Essentialism and Replacing Species in a Material Feminist Environmentalism Feminist Formations 23:2 (2011): 26-53.
New Directions For Ecofeminism: Toward a More Feminist Ecocriticism ISLE 17:4 (2010): 643-665.
"Reproductive Technology, or Reproductive Justice? An Ecofeminist, Environmental Justice Perspective on the Rhetoric of Choice." Ethics & the Environment 15:2 (Fall 2010):103-129.
"Toward an Ecopedagogy of Children's Environmental Literature." Green Theory and Praxis: The Journal of Ecopedagogy 4:2 (2008): 11-24.
“Vegetarian Ecofeminism: A Review Essay.” Frontiers 23:3(2003):117-146.
“Ecofeminism on the Wing: Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations.” Women & Environments 52/53 (Fall 2001):19-22.
“Women, Water, Energy: An Ecofeminist Approach.” Organization & Environment 14:2 (June 2001):157-172.
“Tools for a Cross-Cultural Feminist Ethics: Ethical Contexts and Contents in the Makah Whale Hunt.” Hypatia 16.1 (Winter 2001):1-26.
“Strategies for a Cross-Cultural Ecofeminist Ethics: Interrogating Tradition, Preserving Nature in Linda Hogan’s Power and Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy.” The Bucknell Review 44:1 (March 2000):82-101.
"Toward a Queer Ecofeminism." Hypatia 12:1(Winter 1997):114-37.
"Ecofeminism and Wilderness." Environmental Ethics 19:1 (Spring 1997):5-24.
"Hiking Without a Map: Reflections on Teaching Ecofeminist Literary Criticism." Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 3:1(Fall 1996):155-82.
"Ecofeminism: Toward Global Justice and Planetary Health." (with Lori Gruen) Society and Nature 2:1 (1993):1-35.
Creative Nonfiction“Queer by Nature.” pp. 147–57 in Love, West Hollywood. Ed. James Berg and Chris Freeman. Alyson Publications, 2008.
"Explosion." Ethics & Environment 8:2 (Winter 2003):71-79.
“Family of Origin, Family of Land.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 8:2 (Summer 2001):237-51.
“Ecofeminism and Home.” IRIS: A Journal about Women 37(Spring/Summer 1998):62-67.
Other publications"Milking Mother Nature: An Ecofeminist Critique of rBGH." The Ecologist 24:6 (November/December 1994):1-2.
"Misunderstanding Ecofeminism.” Z Papers 3:1(January–March 1994):20-24.
“River Farm, An Intentional Community.” 9:00 minutes. (1998)
"Ecofeminism Now!" 37:00 minutes. (1996). Available at
"Thinking Green: Ecofeminists and the Greens." 35:00 minutes. (1994) Available at
"Building Green Communities." 26:00 minutes (1993).
"We, The People: The 1993 March on Washington for Gay, Lesbian, and Bi Equal Rights."