Call for Statements 2008

Wissenschaftliches Seminar im Rahmen der Shakespeare-Tage 2008

Shakespearean Foodways: Feasting, Fasting, Playing and Digesting

Food offers powerful ways to make and communicate cultural meanings. As social anthropolo­gists have long established, cooking, eating, drinking and consumption define groups, explore identities, celebrate social cohesion, highlight conflicts and generally perform rites and acts of great significance. This also holds true for the early modern stage. There are many ways in which Shakespearean theatre relates to eating culture. Figures of festive excess like Falstaff or Sir Toby, on-stage scenes of banqueting and feasting as in Timon of Athens, Titus Andronicus or The Winter’s Tale, secret arts of cooking as presented with the witches’ cauldron in Macbeth or dietary rules as dis­cussed in The Merchant of Venice: all these demonstrate the centrality of foodways and define the cultural field also for theatrical performance in Shakespearean England. Above all, body issues – such as gender, sex, desire, health and healing – can be studied in this field because the early modern concept of the humoral body sees all alimentary behaviour in moral and political categories. How, then, is Shakespearean theatre situated in the seasonal contrast between every­day and festive culture? How do changing diets in this period negotiate modes of carnivalization and normalization in society? How are fundamental questions of belief and faith, such as the Eucha­rist debate, involved in food rites and digestive symbolism as performed in texts like Hamlet? How can we trace the impact of New World encounters on domestic scenes and diets, which, in the course of the colonial project, were just beginning to bring home figures and fantasies of alterity, as in anxieties of cannibalistic eating? And how are all these issues re-considered, re-interpreted and newly re-created in specific stage or screen productions, adaptations, versions or sub­versions of Shakespearean plays?

The Shakespeare-Tage 2008 will take place from 24th to 27nd April in Vienna. In this context, our seminar plans to address these and related questions. As critical input for the discussion and provocation for debate, panelists are invited to give short statements (of no more than 15 minutes) presenting concrete case studies, concise examples and strong views on the topic. Please send your proposals (Abstracts of ca. 300 words) and all further questions by 31st October 2007 to the seminar convenors:

Tobias Döring (tobias.doering(at)
Susanne Rupp (susanne.rupp(at)