Food as the Central Narrative: Exploring the Surplus of Meaning (Part 1) (Panel)

Global Anglophone / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Brian Shields (Temple University)

This panel proposal seeks to examine the profound significance of food as a central narrative element in literature and its broader implications for literary scholarship. Inspired by the conference theme of surplus, the panel aims to explore moments in literary works where food takes on a prominent role, transcending its culinary function and becoming integral to the storytelling process. By examining the multifaceted ways in which food operates within literature, this panel aims to shed light on its potential for enriching our understanding of narratives and its broader implications for the field of literary studies.

The significance of this panel lies in its potential to uncover the depth and complexity of food's role in literature. By exploring food as setting, character description, symbol, and form, scholars can reveal the surplus of meanings associated with food and its impact on storytelling, offering new avenues for literary analysis and interpretation. Examining food as setting allows for a deeper understanding of how literary spaces are imbued with cultural and social dimensions through culinary representations. Analyzing characters' eating habits as descriptors illuminates their psychology and motivations, highlighting the intricate relationship between food and identity. Exploring food as symbol unveils the capacity of food to convey broader themes, ideologies, and cultural values within literary works. Moreover, investigating food as a literary form, such as in cookbooks and culinary guides, offers insights into the intersection of literature and gastronomy, expanding our understanding of literary creativity and genre.

By inviting papers on these various aspects, the panel aims to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and contribute to the broader field of literary scholarship. This exploration of food's narrative significance opens new possibilities for analyzing and interpreting literary works, deepening our understanding of how authors employ food as a powerful tool for storytelling and enriching our comprehension of the intricate relationship between literature, culture, and society.

Beyond mere sustenance, food often serves as a rich source of meaning, symbolizing cultural, social, and psychological dimensions. This panel invites scholars to examine literary moments where food becomes an integral part of the narrative, exploring its multifaceted roles and its ability to facilitate storytelling.