1st Edition

Food, Poetry, and the Aesthetics of Consumption Eating the Avant-Garde

By Michel Delville Copyright 2008
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    From Plato’s dismissal of food as a distraction from thought to Kant’s relegation of the palate to the bottom of the hierarchy of the senses, the sense of taste has consistently been devalued by Western aesthetics. Kant is often invoked as evidence that philosophers consider taste as an inferior sense because it belongs to the realm of the private and subjective and does not seem to be required in the development of higher types of knowledge. From a gastrosophical perspective, however, what Kant perceives as a limitation becomes a new field of enquiry that investigates the dialectics of diet and discourse, self and matter, inside and outside.

    The essays in this book examine the importance of food as a pivotal element – both materially and conceptually – in the history of the Western avant-garde. From Gertrude Stein to Alain Robbe-Grillet and Samuel Beckett, from F.T. Marinetti to Andy Warhol, from Marcel Duchamp to Eleanor Antin, the examples chosen explore the conjunction of art and foodstuff in ways that interrogate contemporary notions of the body, language, and subjectivity.


    1 Tasting Is Believing: A Few Thoughts on Still Life Poetics

    2 On Tender Buttons and Brussels Sprouts: Modernism and the Aesthetics of Consumption

    3 Pop Serialism: Soup Cans, Pie Counters and Things that Look like Meat

    4 Minimalists and Anorexics

    5 Uncontrollable Materialities: Food and the Body in Performance

    Epilogue: The Food and Hunger Poet at the Turn of the Century; Anorexia, Anthropoemia and Abjection


    Works Cited



    Michel Delville teaches English and American literatures, as well as comparative literature, at the University of Liège, Belgium, where he directs the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Poetics. He is the author of several books including J.G. Ballard (1998), Hamlet & Co (2001; with Pierre Michel), Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and the Secret History of Maximalism (2005; with Andrew Norris), and The American Prose Poem, which won the 1998 SAMLA Studies Book Award. He recently co-edited three volumes of essays on postwar poetry (The Mechanics of the Mirage, 2000; Sound as Sense: US Poetry &/In Music, 2004; Poésie, Musique, Modernité, 2004).