CFP: [Renaissance] GEMCS 2008: Cannibalistic Thinking in Early Modern Poetry, Drama, Travel Narratives, and Liturgical

full name / name of organization: 
Colleen Kennedy
contact email: 

Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies 2008 Conference:
"Appetite, Desire, and Gargantuan Pleasures"
November 20-23, 2008, Philadelphia

Cannibalistic Thinking in Early Modern Poetry, Drama, Travel Narratives,
and Liturgical Texts
“I think there is more barbarity in eating a man alive than eating him
                                â€" Michel de Montaigne’s “Of Cannibals”

The popularity of cannibalism as a topic in essays and in literary and
dramatic representation is reflected in the quantity and variation of
early modern works that deal with the topic. While the Brazilians Jean
de Lery encounters in his History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil are
made all the more primitive by their cannibalistic practices,
Shakespeare’s Titus invokes a perfect revenge against Tamora in having
her eat her children. Post-colonial scholars and psychoanalysts have long
claimed that cannibalism nearly always parallels with the conqueror’s
desire to define oneself in opposition either the body consumed, or the
bodies that consume. If the secular concept of cannibalism represents
the Englishmen’s destructive desire to consume other cultures by
imagining their social habits as being less than human, then that idea is
made all the more complex when we consider the practice’s sacred origins.

>From religious and mythological sources such as Ovid’s Philomela,
Hesiod’s Theogony, and the Tantalus myth to the Christian tradition of
communion, early modern Englishmen were becoming increasingly
introspective of both the Catholic concept of transubstantiation and the
non-western European ideologies introduced during the Renaissance. This
language of cannibalism and the ideas associated with it become a
rhetoric of difference and it permeates the English imagination,
filtering itself through the period’s poetry, drama, and essays.

This panel looks to explore the various ways that cannibalism is
portrayed and enacted. Who are “the players” in cannibalism? Who gets
to eat whom? If cannibalism represents a power struggle, is it confined
to a certain classes, specific ethnic or racial groups, or unique social
interactions? Panelists should consider the various ways that the term
cannibalism can be defined, and the effects those definitions have on the
ideologies used to construct the early modern body.

Panelists may look at cannibalism from any historical or theoretical
perspective, including: religious, feminist, post-colonial, or Marxist
modes of inquiry, amongst others. Suggested texts to consider could
        Early modern reinterpretations of Greco-Roman cannibalism myths
        Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus
        Essayists writing on encounter or cannibalism specifically
        Metaphysical poetry
        Early travel narratives
        Anticipations of “A Modest Proposal” and Dunciad

Abstracts due July 20th . Presenters may send name, complete mailing
address, institutional affiliation, email address, and paper abstract to
Chris Madson at or Colleen Kennedy at

 From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
             more information at
Received on Wed Jul 02 2008 - 10:16:49 EDT