Abstracts: Volume 2

"Restoring the Royal Household: Royalist Politics and the Commonwealth Recipe Book"
by Madeline Bassnett
Food discourse was a polemical tool used by both royalists and republicans during the English civil war. In the 1650s, however, it was the royalists who revived and claimed the recipe book—an important genre of food writing—for themselves. While The Queens Closet Opened (1655) has been previously established as royalist, this paper suggests that Commonwealth recipe books as a whole aligned themselves with the longing for royal restoration. Not only were these books overwhelmingly connected to royalty or aristocracy, but they also consistently recalled royalist networks, court practices, and the cabinet discourse associated with The Kings Cabinet Opened and Charles I’s Eikon Basilike. Popular and affordable, recipe books helped to sustain royalist visibility under the Protectorate while linking good domestic management to the return of the Stuart monarchy to the head of the national household.
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"‘The Chameleon’s Dish’: Shakespeare and the Omnivore’s Dilemma"
by Todd A. Borlik
This essay situates Shakespeare's Hamlet within the emergent discourse of ethical vegetarianism in early modern England, challenging the prevailing assumption that the English were a nation of robust beef-eaters. Specifically, it argues that Hamlet has undertaken a commemorative fast for his father, which implies that he likely eschewed meat. It documents Hamlet's repulsion with butchery and his morbid fascination with the physiological decay of the flesh, culling further evidence in the Prince's denunciations of meat-eating in Shakespeare's source. It relates Hamlet's delay to his qualms about cold-blooded butchery, and deciphers the murder of Polonius as an ironic reenactment of the folk-play known as the Killing of the Calf. Finally, the essay unravels the metaphysical and ecocritical implications of Hamlet's fast. By blurring the animal/human boundary, the tragedy problematizes the unthinking acceptance of carnivorism as divinely ordained by the Judeo-Christian tradition.
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"Digesting Falstaff: Food and Nation in Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays"
by Joshua B. Fisher
This article examines Falstaff’s culinary excesses in Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays in terms of quality instead of quantity. Rather than viewing Falstaff simply as a figure of gluttonous vice, the article argues that Sir John can be understood as embodying an expansive metaphorical significance as food and, in particular, as overwhelmingly native English foodstuffs that both appeal to and threaten to upset Hal’s humoral balance and his capacity to govern both self and nation. As such, embracing Falstaff potentially undermines one’s proximity to proper bodily decorum and self-rule, but rejecting Falstaff potentially dissociates both Hal and audiences from a cohesive national community.
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"Appetite and Ambition: The Influence of Hunger in Macbeth"
by Katherine Knowles
This article examines the prevalence of food and food-related imagery in Macbeth, arguing that the severe anxiety about the provision of food that affected a large proportion of the population of early modern England has a profound influence on the play. It surfaces first in the brief encounter between the weird sisters and the sailor’s wife in 1.3 – an episode which depicts hunger and deprivation overtly – and re-emerges in the language of the noble characters, who, though they do not suffer such an obvious shortage of food themselves, nevertheless express their desires, fears and ambitions through the language of eating, suggesting that during Macbeth’s tyrannical reign – despite the appearance of plenty that the banquets imply – food supply might be precarious for all social strata. Thus food becomes, in Macbeth, universal shorthand for all that is significant, reflecting the fundamental place it occupied in the minds of early modern people: a centrality that has perhaps been lost to modern western society where food is plentiful and easily obtained.
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"“For Knowledge Is As Food”:
Digesting Gluttony and Temperance in Paradise Lost"

by Emily E. Speller
In his Commonplace Book, the young John Milton cites Tertullian’s indication of the first sin as gluttony; in De Doctrina Christiana, Milton asserts that gluttony was one of several sins compounded in the Fall. Through analysis of alimentary, gluttonous, and scatological metaphor throughout Paradise Lost, this paper evaluates Milton’s use of the long theological and literary tradition of a gluttonous first sin. Such an examination, allowing for the medieval consideration of excessive selectivity in diet as a form of gluttony, expands the philosophical implications of Raphael’s analogy comparing knowledge to food in Book Seven. In depicting the insidiousness of Gluttony, Milton not only underscores his theme of temperance but also clarifies the position of right reason within the poem and reinforces the importance of the divine exhortation to ‘Know thyself.’
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UTA Graduate Student Prize Essay

"Caesar’s Same-Sex-Food-Sex Dillema"
by Robert Lipscomb
Often disjointed, temporally inconsistent, and metaphorically mixed, Shakespeare’s sprawling Antony and Cleopatra frequently challenges as much as it entertains. However, consistency is seen in the near constant deployment of food and, more precisely, food metaphors, throughout the play. Just as Cleopatra is thematically imbricated with banqueting and revelry, Caesar’s designs on Antony are also couched in terms of food, though in a much more sober and reserved manner. Specifically, the austerity of Caesar’s “strange flesh” speech stands in sharp contrast to Cleopatra’s wanton excesses. Because food is also inextricable from Cleopatra’s sexuality, this analysis will posit that Shakespeare likewise posits a sexual dimension into Caesar’s speech. In support of this argument, other instances of same-sex desire will be evaluated within Shakespeare’s canon. More importantly, the social values associated with this instance of same-sex desire would have been recognized by a Jacobean audience. Thus, the dual allegorical construction of food and sexuality bridges the time period between the Renaissance and Rome to establish a harmonious and universal message about the “strange flesh” associated with desire.
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