by Shelley Kulperger, Altitude, Volume 1, Article 1, 2001.
Transgression’, ‘cartography’, ‘deterritorialization’ and ‘nomadism’ are just some of the ‘spatial’ metaphors and critical models that have come, recently, to dominate cultural and critical theory. These invocations of spatial poetics and politics give us a reason to consider what the poststructuralist celebration of what functions, metaphorically, as a non-fixed, domestic, outside might mean to feminist concerns over gender, subjectivity and space. Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride provides a ‘map’ for exploring some of these concerns through the protagonists of her text who are crudely characterised and stereotyped as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ girls and through the particular emphasis on domestic and urban space. In a critical examination of essentialised female subjectivity, much of Atwood’s recent work looks to the historical foundations of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ femininity, of ‘Angels-in-the-House’ and femmes fatales, of malicious Medusas and drowning Ophelias. In The Robber Bride, these models of femininity carry their historical references but also emphatically arise out of routine spatial practices and belongings.
Shelley Kulperger completed a PhD in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at the University of Queensland