Gender and Space in Tobias Smollett's The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 University of Athens vmarkidou@enl.uoa.gr
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The present essay attempts to shed light on the gender politics of Tobias Smollett's novel The Expedition of Humphry Clinker in relation to its spatial politics, and argues that geographic space functions as a framework within which gender contextualises both urban and rural culture. Drawing primarily on Henri Lefebvre's seminal post-modernist study of space, the paper argues that space is a social production that gives rise to representational effects. Chief among them is gender, and the essay analyses the way Smollett invokes and then subverts the traditional literary and cultural binary between country/femininity and city/masculinity. It thus advances a deconstruction of a familiar binary opposition between geographic and sexual stereotypes. Thus, the ultimate 'traveller' of Smollett's picaresque novel is none other than the reader who is invited to explore his/her identity by analysing Smollett's presentation of the formation of subjectivity through the intersections of space and gender as well as his ambiguous stance towards his contemporary status quo.

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