"Racial Indigestion is a subtle and wide-ranging study that will be of interest to scholars in nineteenth-century literature, critical race theory, American studies, food studies, and consumer cultures more generally. The originality and depth of the analysis ensures that Racial Indigestion will be a key reference work for years to come.”-Black Cultural Studies
Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Centuryby Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Lauri Umansky
The act of eating is both erotic and violent. In eating, one wholly consumes the object being eaten; at the same time eating enacts a kind of vulnerability to the world, revealing a fundamental interdependence between the eater and that which exists outside her body. Racial Indigestion explores the links between food, visual, and literary culture in the
The act of eating is both erotic and violent. In eating, one wholly consumes the object being eaten; at the same time eating enacts a kind of vulnerability to the world, revealing a fundamental interdependence between the eater and that which exists outside her body. Racial Indigestion explores the links between food, visual, and literary culture in the nineteenth-century United States to reveal how eating, in its many forms, is deployed to shape racial and gendered citizenship in the early history of American biopolitics.
Combing through a visually stunning and rare archive of children's literature, architectural history, domestic manuals, dietetic tracts, novels, and advertising, Racial Indigestion tells the story of the consolidation of nationalist mythologies of whiteness via the erotic politics of consumption. Less a history of commodities than a history of eating itself, the book seeks to understand how eating became an act of political and cultural agency variously linked to vice, virtue, race and class inequality and, finally, the queer pleasures and pitfalls of a burgeoning commodity culture. In so doing, Racial Indigestion sheds light on contemporary "foodie" culture's vexed relationship to nativism, nationalism, and race privilege.
What People are saying about this
“A dazzlingly original and important contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century American literature and culture. It brings together the still-emergent field of food studies with Americanist literary and cultural studies, but not in order to ‘apply’ a set food studies methodology to literature, or merely to trace a theme. Tompkins brings a new lens to bear on the cultural forms of a particular time and place, resulting in new insights into familiar texts but also in new ways of seeing archives that may not have seemed worth further exploration.”-Glenn Hendler,Fordham University
“Racial Indigestion is as creative as it is theoretically rigorous and archivally grounded. Tompkins sets forth a marvelous, fruitful array of analytic sites and clever juxtapositions, tracing the politics inherent in the decline of the hearth and the rise of stoves, reimagining the mouth as the window to an alimentary politics, and tracking the post-Reconstruction politics of trade cards. The connections she makes between eating and vernacular culture make the book satisfyingly literary, even as it is so clearly a stellar work of cultural studies.”-Elizabeth Freeman,author of Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories
Meet the Author
Kyla Wazana Tompkins is Associate Professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies at Pomona College. She is a former journalist and restaurant critic.
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