Focusing on the corporeal and social interconnectedness between women and animals, this article discusses Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus (1984) and its exploration of literal and metaphorical woman–animal transcorporeal imaginings. At the time of its publication, the influence of Thatcher’s family politics advocated the Victorian model of the working father/husband supporting the stay-at-home mother/wife, which also revived women’s interest in animal protection movements due to their role as moral caretakers. Nights at the Circus returns to the late nineteenth century to examine naturally and socially intertwined constructions of Victorian women to deconstruct and complicate gender ideals. By spotlighting a bird-woman as its protagonist, the novel’s scientific and fantastic experimentation with human and nonhuman intermixing stimulates vigorous interactions between the materiality of the woman’s body and her sociocultural identities to redevelop the modern woman as a dynamically interconnected being in transformation.
Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 57(5), p.502-511