Call for Essays: Food and Feasting in Post-1700 Outlaw Narratives

Alex Kaufman Discussion

We are soliciting abstracts on a proposed collection on food and feasting in post-1700 outlaw narratives. While outlawry has its formal origins in the Middle Ages, the outlaw is a figure and trope present in many modern, post-1700 texts, especially American, Native American, African American, and Australian outlaw narratives. Food, its preparation, and its consumption are presented in outlaw narratives as central points of human interaction, community, and fellowship, providing readers with opportunities to examine and analyze agricultural practices as well as trade, economics, and the social standing of its producers and consumers. Feast scenes perform a wide variety of functions, serving as a cultural repository of manners and behaviors, a catalyst for the adventure, or a moment of regrouping and redirecting the narrative, for instance.

This collection will consider the presence and function of food and feast in outlaw narratives, with an eye to considering whether and how instances of food preparation and eating in these tales can be said to display, to develop, or to subvert the conventional ideas of community and fellowship most commonly associated with foods and feasts in literature. This collection is unique in a number of ways. It builds upon a growing body of scholarship on outlaw studies and food studies, which in recent years has seen a number of important analyses from such scholars as Allison Carruth, Stephen Knight, Susan Leonardi, Anita Mannur, Thomas Ohlgren, and Helen Phillips. Indeed, some twenty-five years after Leonardi’s landmark 1989 PMLA article, “Recipes for Reading: Summer Pasta, Lobster à la Riseholme, and Key Lime Pie,” scholars are less ambivalent about the status of food studies. It seems that now is the opportune time for an examination of the transgressive world of outlaws within the context of one of life’s basic necessities, food.

A publisher has expressed interest in the collection. We ask that 300-500 word abstracts and brief biographies be sent, by July 1, 2016, to Alex Kaufman ( and Penny Vlagopoulos ( Essays for accepted abstracts will be due by December 1, 2016, and should be 6,000-8,000 words in Chicago style.