This collection of essays looks at the literary representations of space - physical, psychological political and cultural - from a perspective that is at once comparative and feminist. Combining historical analysis with literary theory, the contributors explore the changing definitions of ""woman's place"" through such themes as exile and exclusion, property and territoriality, and the body as interface between individual and communal identities. They show how maps of gender overlap with maps of status and how images of separate gender, class and racial terrain have often insidiously helped define social relations and group identities. Embracing Adrienne Rich's definition of the body as ""the geography closest in"", the book examines the relationship between gender and geography in a broad array of texts and contexts, from the early novel to contemporary Caribbean and Chicana literature. The essays analyse the earlier movement of 18th- and 19th-century women in the public and private arenas as well as the efforts of 20th-century women to redefine a symbolic feminine space, to engage political issues and to recover a postcolonial sense of local place.