You Are What You Eat: Appetite, Consumption, and Identity in Antiquity March 7-8, 2014
University of California Irvine - March 7-8, 2014
Keynote Speaker: Adam Rabinowitz, Univ. of Texas, Austin
In classical antiquity, food did more than nourish. Indeed, the types of food consumed, the places where it is consumed, the occasions for their consumption, and the reasons for their consumption are significant and reveal important information. What is craved and what is consumed can manifest identity. Examples of such consumption are manifold and serve a variety of purposes. For instance, Cronos ate his children in a desperate attempt to hold onto power. Religious supplicants sacrifice animals, pour libations, or symbolically reenact feasts as demonstrations of belief and piety. Banquets and symposia are not only social gatherings, but also occasions for the display of social and moral standing. Consuming the lotus in the Land of the Lotus-Eaters caused one's identity to be forgotten.
Furthermore, appetite and consumption have never been limited exclusively to the literal consumption of food and drink. Sappho's priamel in fragment 16 consumes the world of Homer's epics to underscore how she stands apart from it. Tacitus and Suetonius offer a view of the Roman Empire's identity of excess with their accounts of Valeria Messalina's contest to consume sexual partners.
This conference seeks to explore how appetite and consumption relate to the identity of the Greco-Roman world and its inhabitants. What did the peoples of the ancient Mediterranean have an appetite for? What did they consume? And most importantly, what do their appetites and the things they consume tell us about their identity? We invite papers from current graduate students that deal with appetite and consumption and their relationship to identity.
Topics concerning the connection between appetite/consumption and identity may focus on:
- Food and Drink: How do people use food and drink to construct their identities? At what occasions or under what conditions are food and drink consumed? Conversely, how does selective and/or a willful lack of consumption, such as vegetarianism or asceticism, contribute to the formation of an identity?
- Literature and Material Culture: How do authors or craftsmen depict consumption in their works? How do authors or audiences consume works of literature or art?
- Politics and Society: How is political power consumed by rulers and those subject to them? What socio-economic relationships are at play when consuming and being consumed?
- Sex: How are people consumed by desire? What constructions and constraints of desire shape Greco-Roman identities?
- Religion: What do the gods consume and how does this reflect upon their suppliants?
These are only a few examples of the possible topics that are meant to fit under our theme. We welcome papers from any discipline (history, philology, philosophy, archaeology, etc.) and from any time period of the Greco-Roman world.
Source : APA