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Title: 'Tell me what you eat' : representations of food in nineteenth century culture
Author: Boyce, Charlotte
ISNI:       0000 0004 2749 4426
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2006
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Drawing upon the poststructuralist theories of Barthes, Derrida, Foucault and Lacan, this thesis analyses the multiple significations attached to food in nineteenth-century culture, and the art and literature of the Victorian bourgeoisie in particular. Chapter one utilises Lacanian theories of vision and desire in order to suggest that nineteenth-century representations of food are frequently caught up in a politics of display, constituting a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. It goes on to argue that the preoccupation with display in the middle-class dining room reveals something of the nature of bourgeois desire, as well as the fundamental instability of subjectivity. Chapter two examines the class-specific locations in which food was consumed, focusing on the special status accorded to the dining room in bourgeois culture. It also suggests that the picnic - a phenomenon which transported the middle classes outside of the security of the domestic realm - holds a disruptive, disorderly potential in representation, which ultimately undoes the inside/outside binary used to order Victorian eating spaces. Chapter three considers the relationship between food and nation in nineteenth-century art and literature, arguing that racial and cultural others are often portrayed in terms of food, functioning simultaneously as objects of desire - appetising dishes to enhance the white, British palate - and sources of anxiety, having a destabilising effect upon the hegemonic cultural identity when 'consumed'. Considered collectively, these chapters demonstrate that the act of eating is by no means an innocent one. Freighted with cultural significations both manifest and covert, caught up in complex networks of meaning relating to hierarchies of gender, race and class, food and its associated practices work to construct, as well as to nourish, the consuming subject.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available