Disorderly Eating: Food and Disruption in Contemporary Women's Writing

Disorderly Eating: Food and Disruption in Contemporary Women's Writing
1 December 2017, 12.30pm - 4.30pm
Bloomsbury Room, G35, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU


The preparation and eating of food are subjects of constant fascination in literature as in life and both are fundamental to our understanding of human society. Writings about food are often rich in information concerning social and cultural values and speak to us about a wide range of practical and ethical matters: bodies, rituals, norms, ecology, family, gender, power, language and, more broadly, order and disorder may all be at stake. Further, eating practices and rituals are closely connected to identity, both individual and collective, and are frequently laden with affect. Rituals of eating, which are in in general highly codified, are often understood metaphorically in literature and the codes that they embody are highlighted - sometimes precisely by disrupting them - in order to express disorder. This cross-cultural seminar will explore some of the increasingly disturbing ways in which contemporary women’s writing, both fictional and non-fictional, turns its attention to our relationship with food. In recent years an increasing numbers of fictional and autobiographical works by women have grappled with the difficult subject of eating disorders, especially anorexia nervosa, and there is a growing body of scholarship in this area. The purpose of the proposed cross-cultural seminar is rather different. We aim to expand our focus on disorderly eating, to look beyond clinically-diagnosable cases and to investigate the wider spectrum of other accounts of disorder that are elaborated in a range of contemporary women’s writing through a focus on food.

12.30    Shirley Jordan (Newcastle University/CCWW): Introduction and Welcome
12.40    Ruth Cruickshank (Royal Holloway University of London): ‘Who’s Messed Up?: From Ernaux’s Disordered Eating to Feminist Approaches to Food in Late-capitalist France’
13.15    Sandra Daroczi (University of Bath): ‘Food and Societal (Dis)Order in Darrieussecq’s Works’
13.50    Abigail Lee Six (Royal Holloway University of London): ‘Predatory Consumption in Gema del Prado Marugán, ‘Comer con los ojos’ (2016)’
14.25 Refreshments
14.50    Judith Still (University of Nottingham): ‘The Solitary Pleasure of a Mère de famille OR Disorderly Eating in Marie NDiaye’s “La Gourmandise”’
15.25    Heike Bartel (University of Nottingham): ‘Re-assessing Gender through Writing about Male Eating Disorders’
16.00 Round table discussion and questions 



Generously supported by the Cassal Endowment Fund


All are welcome to attend this free event. Places are limited so please book in advance. 



Cathy Collins
020 7862 8738