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Communication Dans Un Congrès Année : 2014

Bodies That Cook and Cooked Bodies


Cooking and consuming food, one of the forms of carnal concupiscence, has long been associated with sex, but also with death. This paper proposes to examine a recurring pattern in the Western imaginaire, i.e. stories of ritualistic carnal cannibalism as codified expressions of gender power relations. The pattern is well-known: the husband kills the wife’s lover, or vice versa, cuts out the heart (or another human organ…), makes it into a stew or a pie and serves it up in a dish for the other to eat. Fantasy of omnipotence but also of radical love and desire as absorption, greedy voration, primitive devouring, the pattern can be found in the Decameron (1353), Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (1594), Grimm’s fairy tales (1854), T. S. Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes (1932), Barbey d’Aurevilly’s The Diabolicals (1874) or Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989). Thus, in love, as everywhere else, cooking and being eating mark gender identities and hierarchies, especially the traditional conception and symbolic value of the woman as inoffensive, unable to bite, « a dumb mouth from which the teeth have been pulled » (Angela Carter, The Sadeian Woman, 1979). Particular emphasis will be laid upon Margaret Atwood’s first novel, The Edible Woman (1969), the text enacting and performing these fantasies of carnal consumption and assimilation. The powerful narrative reveals the subtext of social and sexual violence at its heart, Atwood empowering her heroine, on the verge of losing total control over her body, literally sucked out of herself by her manly fiancé and unable to absorb any kind of food, through the culinary mastery, her heroine regaining control by baking, and absorbing, an edible substitute, a woman-shaped cake


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hal-01426630 , version 1 (04-01-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01426630 , version 1


Anne Isabelle François. Bodies That Cook and Cooked Bodies. X. Congress Crossroads in Cultural Studies, ACS Association for Cultural Studies, Jul 2014, Tampere, Finland. ⟨hal-01426630⟩
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