Culinary Comedy in Medieval French Literature

Culinary Comedy in Medieval French Literature (Paperback [37])

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 Culinary Comedy in Medieval French Literature
Purdue University Press
6.00" x 9.00"

Book Description

Long before Rabelaisian tales of gargantuan gluttony regaled early modern audiences, and centuries before pie-in-the-face gags enlivened vaudeville slapstick, medieval French poets employed food as a powerful device of humor and criticism.Food and laughter, essential elements in human existence, can be used to question the meaning of cultural conventions concerning the body and sexuality, religion, class hierarchies, and gender relations. This book unites the cultural and literary study of representations of food and consumption with theoretical approaches to comedy, humor, and parody in late twelfth- through early-fourteenth-century French fictional verse narratives of epic chanson de geste, theater, Arthurian verse romance, fabliau, and the beast epic of the Roman de Renart. From socially inept epic heroes to hungry knights-errant and mischievous fabliau housewives, out of the ordinary food usage embodies humor. Some knights prefer fighting with roast chicken or bread loaves rather than their swords. Specific foods such as sausages, lard, pears, nuts, or chickens provoked laughter by their mere presence in a scene. Culinary comedy serves as both social satire and literary parody, playing with institutional social conduct and alimentary codes. Its power lies in its ability to disrupt and to reinforce the same conventions it ridicules.

About the Author(s):

Sarah Gordon earned her Ph.D. in French from Washington University, M.Phil. in European Literature from Oxford University, and B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a research fellow at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Her research has been funded by awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Modern Language Association of America, and others. Her publications on medieval literature appear in journals such as LIT, Medievalia et Humanistica, and Women in French. Assistant Professor of French Language and Literature at Utah State University, she has also taught at the Sorbonne and Ohio University. She was a restaurant critic in Paris.