Women’s Imaginary Cooking and Appetites across Cultures: Studies in Literature, Media and Film

Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru's picture
Call for Papers
November 15, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Literature, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Call for Papers: Collection


Women’s Imaginary Cooking and Appetites across Cultures:

Studies in Literature, Media and Film

Edited by Dana Bădulescu, Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru and Florina Năstase


In an Illinois Wesleyan University honors project published online in 1993, Sheila Bauer draws on Caroline Bynum’s study of fasting women in medieval times to engage in a complex discussion on women’s bodies and food in literature. She states that “in both fiction and reality women often develop dangerous relationships with food” (1), ranging from anorexic starvation to binge eating. Bauer’s study focuses on what she deems to be women’s core problem in the 20th century, namely their difficulty of defining the boundaries of the self and therefore their “identity within the larger social structure to claim for themselves” (2). The study goes on to explore women’s eating disorders in Barbara Pym’s Quartet in Autumn that tells the story of a retired woman starving herself to death, Fay Weldon’s The Fat Woman’s Joke, whose protagonist is a bulimic woman in her mid-forties, and Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman, the story of a young woman with eating disorders.

The volume Reading Food in Modern Japanese Literature (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008) includes Tomoko Aoyama’s chapter Food and Gender in Contemporary Women’s Literature” (172-203). Aoyoma argues that “certain kinds of food and certain ways of eating are generally regarded as either feminine or masculine” and that, more importantly, activities around food “may be regarded exclusively as the preserve of either men or women” (72). Aoyoma shows that, on account of “historical factors, religious and sociocultural myths of purity” (72), Japanese women have been considered not clean enough to handle food as chefs or to perform other artistic professions.

The new millenium has brought forth a strong interest in the conjunction of food and the female body. Thus, in “Devouring Women: Corporeality and Autonomy in Fiction
by Women Since the 1960s” Sarah Shief scrutinizes the relationship between women, food, and writing with a keen interest in corporeality (
Of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression, University of California Press, 2001, pp. 214-230). In Food Consumption and the Body in Contemporary Women’s Fiction (Cambridge University Press, 2000; 2003) Sarah Sceats explores the impact of food and its consumption upon women’s bodies in the work of writers such as Doris Lessing, Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, etc. In Scenes of the Apple: Food and the Female Body in Nineteenth- and Twentieth Century Women’s Writing (State University of New York Press, 2003) Tamar Heller and Patricia Moran (Eds.) look into a diversity of genres (novels, culinary memoirs, essays, nonliterary documents) to map out feminine appetites and desires across cultures and ages. In Food and Femininity in Twentieth-Century British Women’s Fiction (Ashgate, 2009) Andrea Adolph explores the relationship between food and the challenges of the limitations of femininity in the novels of Barbara Pym, Angela Carter, Helen Dunmore, Helen Fielding and Rachel Cusk. Alice McLean’s book Aesthetic Pleasure in Twentieth-Century Women’s Food Writing: The Innovative Appetites of M. F. K. Fisher, Alice B. Toklas, and Elizabeth David (Routledge, 2013) focuses on three women who challenged deep-seated cultural codes by claiming gastronomic delights and writing about them in an age of revolutionary changes.

Following a path opened in the last thirty years or so in the study of the complex relation of food to literature, we invite reflections on aspects and issues related to food, beverages and appetites in women’s literature, media and film. Essays at the intersection of women’s studies (WS) and food studies (FS) by individual, pairs or groups of authors will be gathered in a volume whose aim is to explore women’s complex relationship with food, cooking, eating and women’s appetites of all kinds.

The range of topics to be tackled through the lens of FS in association with WS may include, but are not restricted to the following:

  • culinary models (in the Balkans, Asia, Europe, Africa, global/diaspora) and femininity in literature/film/the media

  • between feminine anorexia/abstinence and gluttony in literature/film/the media

  • women and cannibalism in literature/film/the media

  • women’s culinary modernisms in literature/film/the media

  • feminine culinary magic/witchcraft in literature/film/the media

  • femininity and food aesthetics in literature/film/the media

  • femininity and food symbolism in literature/film/the media

  • (famous) feasts/culinary programs and parties hosted by women in literature/film/the media


Selective Bibliography

ADOLPH, Andrea, Food and Femininity in Twentieth-Century British Women’s Fiction, Farnham: Ashgate, 2009.

AOYAMA, Tomoko, "Chapter Six. Food and Gender in Contemporary Women’s Literature". Reading Food in Modern Japanese Literature, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008, pp. 172-203. https://doi.org/10.1515/9780824864071-008

APPELBAUM, Robert, Aguecheek’s Beef, Belch’s Hiccup, and Other Gastronomic Interjections: Literature, Culture, and Food Among the Early Moderns, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2006.

BAUER '93, Sheila, "Eating Away: A Study of Women's Relationship with Food in Literature" (1993). Honors Projects . 19. https://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/eng_honproj/19 (AVAILABLE ONLINE)

BOYCE, Charlotte, FITZPATRICK, Joan, A History of Food in Literature from the Fourteenth Century to the Present, London and New York, Routledge, 2017.

BYNUM, Caroline Walker, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women, Berkeley, CA and London: University of California Press, 1987.

CARRUTH, Allison, Global Appetites: American Power and the Literature of Food, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

COGHLAN, J. Michelle (Editor), The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Food, Cambridge University Press, 2020.

COUNIHAN, Carole M., KAPLAN, Steven L. (Eds.), Food and Gender: Identity and Power, Harwood Academic Publishers, 2005.

GLADWIN, Derek (Editor), Gastro-Modernism: Food, Literature and Culture, Clemson University Press, 2019.

HELLER, Tamar and MORAN, Patricia (Eds.), Scenes of the Apple: Food and the Female Body in Nineteenth- and Twentieth Century Women’s Writing, State Iniversity of New York Press, 2003.

JACKSON, Eve, Food and Transformation: Imagery and Symbolism of Eating Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, Inner City Books, 1996.

SCEATS, Sarah, Food Consumption and the Body in Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Cambridge University Press, 2000; 2003.

SHAHANI, Gitanjali G. (Editor), Food and Literature, Cambridge University Press, 2018.

SHIEF, Sarah, Chapter 11 ”Devouring Women: Corporeality and Autonomy in Fiction
by Women Since the 1960s” in Braziel, Jana Evans and LeBesco, Kathleen,
Of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression, University of California Press, 2001, pp. 214-230

TIGNER, Amy, CARRUTH, Allison, Literature and Food Studies, London & New York, Routledge, 2018.


Web Sources








November 15th, 2022 – submission of proposals (an abstract – maximum 250 words, maximum 7 key words, a reference list of at least four titles, a short bio note – maximum 200 words)

December 5th, 2022 – notification of acceptance

Full chapters of around 7000 words, based on the accepted abstracts, will be due by March 31st, 2023. For instructions about editing, formatting and style sheets, please use the MLA 9th Edition guide:


Our book project has received a preliminary expression of interest from Brill Academic Publishers and, following favourable peer reviewing, the collection will be published by them. We expect the volume to come out in 2024.


Please send your contributions to all of the editors at the e-mail addresses below:

Dana Bădulescu, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi, dnbadulescu@gmail.com

Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru, University of Bucharest, mariasabina@gmail.com

Florina Năstase, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi, fnastase60@yahoo.com








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