ACLA2020: Pierogi and Plum Brandy--Cultures of Consumption in Russian & Eastern European Literature (Chicago, 3/19-3/22)

deadline for submissions: 
September 23, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Drago Momcilovic
contact email: 

From the restorative wines of Marko Kraljevic to the apple wedges festering in Gregor Samsa's back and the grand feasts peppering the novels of Gogol and Dostoevsky, images of food and drink in the Russian and Eastern European literary imagination are tantalizingly abundant. Collectively, they appear in novels, films, folktales and works of art as consumed objects and metonymic representations of the landscapes and human practices that cultivate and prepare them. However, these images also form a constellation of symbols and metaphors through which we can trace the particularities of identity and social belonging, historical experience, and the engagement of the individual with the local and global environment. In so doing, we see that consumption is an elastic concept, one that positions the individual and her needs and desires in relation to foods and food cultures, as well as the many other raw materials, currencies, ideas, and narratives that we also take in and use. 

This seminar invites scholars of Russian and Eastern European literature to present papers that explore or broaden this view of food culture specifically or consumption more generally as a formative cultural practice in the modern world. Papers addressing one or more of the following topics are especially welcome:

    • food's symbolic valences and the impact of literary form or genre;


    • literature's apporpriation of food discourses or culinary histories;


    • the constitutive role of food in personal, family, ethnic, gender or cultural identity;


    • ritualizations of hunting, gathering, farming, cooking or eating;


    • food taboos and perceptions of the inedible;


    • the ethics of eating and philosophical approaches to hospitality;


    • the excesses of consumption and the cultures of waste;


    • food histories and their intersections with colonialism, imperialism, socialism, totalitarianism, neoliberalism, democracy, or financial inequality;


    • consuming and consumed bodies and embodied food cultures;


    • the figure of the animal or the non-human environment;


    • the literary tropes of hunger, taste, spice, mouthfeel, aroma, disgust, satiety, guilty pleasure, fuel, excitement, or nausea;


    • Russian and Eastern European 'terroir' and the particularities of place;


    • the enshrinement or de-territorialization of food culture in restaurants, markets, cafes, or the dinner table;


    • food memories and the embodiments of nostalgia;


    • food industries and the global dissemination of food as market commodity;


    • fast foods and slow food movements;


    • Franken-foods and the impact of technical thinking;


    • food and monstrosity;


    • food selfies and the digital turn; and


    • the culinary metaphors emerging in our engagements with or uses of stories, traditions, objects, images, or other human communities.  

For more information, please contact seminar organizer Drago Momcilovic at .