ESA Conference 2011: Food!

Friday, March 18, 2011

From Michael Pollan to the recent hullabaloo about anorexic fashionistas and whether “plus-size” women may model underwear on ABC and Fox, food—its production, its consumption, and its effects on the bodies that eat it—has developed into the subject of even more urgent and clamorous debates. Literary scholarship has worked to keep up with the rest of the culture in exploring the uses and significance of food in literature. In the last fifteen years, an exciting number of books and articles have appeared that examine this issue through many lenses—the politics, economics, and ecological impact of food production (especially in colonial and post-colonial contexts), for example, as well as the performative rituals and material culture of eating, the gendering of food and of disordered eating, psychoanalytic theories of internalization and introjection, philosophies of taste, and so on. Since 2006, at least seven journals of literary scholarship and criticism have published special issues on food. As Timothy Morton writes in his introduction to the journal Romanticism’s issue Food Studies, the research that scholars have done in this emerging interdisciplinary field “leads them to conclude that eating and taste are bound up with the formation of the (idea of the) human subject.” Given the relative newness of food as a serious and important topic in literary studies, we look forward to papers with an exciting variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches.

Jennifer Little
Alec Magnet