Complications of Eating: Investigating (In)digestion in Literature and Film

deadline for submissions: 
September 5, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Niki Kiviat
contact email: 

As recent literary and cultural critics have shown, food, and its presence in literature and film, is not solely linked to corporeal survival. The relationship between food and the body is also one of chemical and physical processes, and of tolerance and rejection (both individual and societal). Food—eating, preparation, choice—therefore also embodies social and cultural nuances and, in their evolution, processes of change. What is more, in the acts of consumption and digestion, food can re-emerge in various, and often socially taboo, ways and, in so doing, highlight sociocultural boundaries and normativities. In other words, food not only reflects on individual biological needs, but it also exposes larger social ontologies. As such, food, eating, and (in)digestion are crucial lenses through which to analyze societies and Culture.

With this in mind, this volume seeks to address the multifaceted ways in which authors and filmmakers across cultures, from the late 19th century to today, have employed food tropes as a means of opening pathways for the discussion of social (in)digestion. As this volume aims to assess, the process of digestion is not merely physiological; it is also a process that resonates with sociocultural histories and individual positionalities within a society. For example, we may recall the indigestible qualities of racial bodies within early twentieth-century Brazilian society, such as the mulatto body of 1930s São Paulo portrayed in Patrícia Galvão’s novel Parque Industrial (1933). Meanwhile, in Salò (1975), Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini revisits the oppression of fascism through the forced consumption of inedible and abject objects, such as feces and nails. In addition, this volume seeks to also consider themes of food refusal and the stakes of controlling one’s own body in a world where personal choices are increasingly governed and thwarted.

With these critical routes in mind, this volume aims to explore literary and filmic tropes of food and (in)digestion, in order to continue to expose modalities of coexistence and oppression not readily apparent. In this vein, we seek submissions that analyze the use of tropes of (in)digestion in literature and film as a means to disseminate critical reflections on more macrocosmic issues. We especially welcome cross-cultural and comparative approaches rooted in gender studies, critical race studies, socioeconomic and political systems, and ecocriticism.

Abstracts are due via email September 5, 2018; accepted articles of 7,000-8,000 words in length will be due February 4, 2019.