Modernism and Food Studies

Published in 2019 by the University Press of Florida, and available for purchase here.

“This delicious collection traverses the globe—potatoes in Ireland, eggs in New Zealand, mangoes in Bengal—and explores the sensuous qualities of artistic modernism in its many forms. This collection makes a bold and clear case for the theoretical and historical importance of food studies to modernism.”—Catherine Keyser, author of Playing Smart: New York Women Writers and Modern Magazine Culture  

“A strong addition to the practice of cultural materialism within modernist studies.”—Bonnie Roos, coeditor of Behind the Masks of Modernism: Global and Transnational Perspectives  

Transnational in scope, this much-needed volume explores how modernist writers and artists address and critique dramatic changes to food systems that took place in the early twentieth century. In this period, small farms were being replaced with industrial agriculture, political upheavals exacerbated food scarcity in many countries, and globalization opened up new modes of distributing culinary commodities.

Looking at a unique variety of texts by authors from Ireland, Italy, France, the United States, India, the former Soviet Union, and New Zealand, contributors draw attention to modernist representations of food. Among other topics, they consider Oscar Wilde’s aestheticization of food, Katherine Mansfield’s use of eggs as a feminist symbol, Langston Hughes’s frequent use of chocolate as a metaphor for blackness, Futurist cuisine and avant-garde cookbooks, and the effects of national famines in the work of James Joyce, Viktor Shklovsky, and Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay.

The diverse topics and methodologies assembled here illustrate how food studies can enrich research in the literary and visual arts. A milestone volume, this collection introduces possibilities for understanding the connection between modernist aesthetics and the emerging food cultures of a globalizing world.

Jessica Martell is visiting assistant professor of English at Appalachian State University. Adam Fajardo is assistant professor of English at Georgia Gwinnett College. Philip Keel Geheber is instructor of English at Louisiana State University.

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