ICMS - Kalamazoo: Food and Feast in Medieval Outlaw Texts
"Food and Feast in Medieval Outlaw Texts"
The romances of medieval England are full of scenes of feasting and eating. Food, its preparation, and its consumption are present as central points of human interaction, community, and fellowship, providing opportunities to examine and analyze agricultural and mercantile practices as well as trade, economics, and the social standing of its producers and consumers; and feast scenes perform a wide variety of functions, serving as a cultural repository of manners and behaviors, a catalyst for the adventure, a "cute-meet" for the lovers, a moment of regrouping and redirecting the narrative, a testing ground for the chivalric and courteous skills of the attendees, an occasion on which some important revelation is made, and a culminating moment of narrative resolution, for instance. But what about in the outlaw tales comprising the Matter of the Greenwood? How important are food and feasting in the tales of Robin Hood, Gamelyn, Hereward the Wake, Eustache the Monk, Fouke le Fitz Waryn, and the Old Norse-Old Icelandic outlaw narratives, for example? This session will consider the presence and function of food and feast in medieval outlaw tales, with an eye to considering whether and how instances of food preparation and eating in these tales can be said to display, to develop, or to subvert the conventional ideas of community and fellowship most commonly associated with foods and feasts in secular medieval literature.
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