Special Topic: Feasting and Starving in English Literature, from Genesis to Emma
From the Last Supper in the gospels to postmodern novels such as Like Water For Chocolate, eating and storytelling have enjoyed an inseparable partnership. Born in the mouth, they are transposed together into a wide range of sacred and profane experiences, from the erotic and the exotic to the familiar and everyday. Just as food can inspire remembrances of things past, so storytelling and other literary genres can convey edible (and Oedipal) fantasies. Literature about dining, diet, cookery, and drink remind us that the expression, “You are what you eat” (and imbibe), has literal as well as metaphorical significance. Dietary prohibitions along with eating-and-drinking protocols, rituals, and etiquette help to shape religious, ethnic, and national identity, from the breast. Throughout this course, we investigate the intimate relationship between food and literature in specific historical, scientific, psychoanalytical, and religious contexts, from Genesis to Emma. We will also consider tales of food deprivation: the stories of people who are hungry, by circumstance or choice. Other central issues will include the relationship between culinary and theatrical performance and the shared materiality of body and text.
In Summer 2022 this course will satisfy a Pre-1800 Literature requirement for English Department majors.