PoTW – Paradoxical Languages: Eating Disorders in Contemporary Women’s Writing

Close up detail girl weighing herself
Throughout the history of Western culture the relationship between women and food has often been perceived as a metaphor for something else. From the much debated biblical episode of Eve and the apple to postmodern society, women’s eating habits have been read not only as acts of self nourishment but also as a display of affection, sexuality and tendency to sin. This multifaceted relationship between women and food reaches its crisis point in the development of contemporary discussion on eating disorders which, however, have existed under numerous guises for centuries. Pathological starvation and binging are an unidiomatic and paradoxical language employed by women – and more recently by men to communicate their deepest feelings, expressing their identity and protesting about their sociocultural roles. Since before the medicalization of these pathologies in the late nineteenth century through to the present day, writers across a variety of languages and cultures have depicted the complex meaning of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and troubled relationships with food and bodies. This cross‐cultural seminar seeks to explore the fictional portrayal of these self‐destructive yet paradoxically and arguably self‐empowering behaviours in recent women’s writing.

Programme:

Kathryn Robson (French, Newcastle): ‘Recovering (from) Anorexia: Reading Narratives of Eating Disorders in Contemporary French Women’s Writing’

Petra M. Bagley (German, Central Lancashire): ‘The Austrian Art of Starvation as depicted by Anna Mitgutsch and Helene Flöss’

Francesca Calamita (IMLR‐CCWW): ‘Filling the Void: Bulimarexic Characters in Postmodern Italian Women’s Writing’

Victoria Richardson (Cambridge/IMLR‐CCWW): ‘Anorexia in Contemporary French Women’s Writing: Marie NDiaye’s ‘Le Jour du Président’ [‘The Day of the President’]’

Date and time: 16 May 2014, 14:00 – 18:00
Venue: Room G34, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street,London WC1E 7HU
All Welcome. RSVP to Gill Rye.

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