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Abstract

This essay examines scholarly discourses about embodiment, and their increasing scholarly currency, in relation to two novels by the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. Like many of Atwood’s other works, The Edible Woman (1969) and Lady Oracle (1976) are explicitly concerned with the complexities of body image. More specifically, however, these novels usefully exemplify her attempt to demystify the female form. In the following pages, I investigate Atwood’s treatment of the mind/body dualism and analyse the ways in which she responds to, and resists, its destructive effects. Using contemporary theory, moreover, I show how Atwood deals with the concept of female space, as well as the ‘space’ of the female body itself. I also consider Atwood’s representation of the female appetite, taking into account its relationship to power and identity, and foregrounding the cultural meaning of eating disorders. Taken together, these subject matters demonstrate how the body ‘feeds’ identity and how a woman’s corporeal experience directly influences her cultural experience. Through a close engagement with recent theories of embodiment, I analyse the extent to which Atwood’s fiction might dismantle culturally-encoded concepts of femininity and propose a useful corrective to traditional readings of the female body in which the re-embodiment of the self is equated to a re-embodiment of culture.

Note on the Author

Sofia Sanchez-Grant is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen.

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