Greta Jo Gaard (born 1960 in Hollywood, California) is an ecofeminist writer, scholar, activist, and documentary filmmaker. Gaard's academic work in the realms of ecocriticism and ecocomposition is widely cited by scholars in the disciplines of composition and literary criticism. Her theoretical work extending ecofeminist thought into queer theory, queer ecology, vegetarianism, and animal liberation has been influential within women's studies. A cofounder of the Minnesota Green Party, Gaard documented the transition of the U.S. Green movement into the Green Party of the United States in her book, Ecological Politics. She is currently a professor of English at University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a community faculty member in Women's Studies at Metropolitan State University, Twin Cities.
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.