THE STARVING BODY ON THE ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN STAGE

in Morality and Justice
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Is starvation representable and how can we understand its staging? By examining the circulation of accounts of prolonged fasting and of other unconventional eating habits in early modern Europe, the paper focuses on the contemporary interest for unnatural forms of eating, and further questions the significance of starvation in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. Part of a broader spectacle of human oddities, prolonged fasters, omnivorous eaters and cannibals provoked popular curiosity, scientific investigation, and moral concern. At the intertwining of high and low culture, unnatural forms of eating thus represented a puzzling spectacle which challenged common assumptions concerning physiology and civilization. By appropriating this spectacle, the drama arguably rehearsed the concerns which informed the perception of the starving book-body and rendered it a site of cultural friction and resistance.

Morality and Justice

The Challenge of European Theatre

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