Disorderly Eating in Victorian England
Type of Degreedissertation
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This dissertation investigates the gendered spaces of eating and consumption in Victorian England. In the nineteenth century, Dr. William Gull introduced the medical diagnosis of “anorexia nervosa,” which spawned a discourse of normalized and disorderly eating that strongly influenced the alimentary habits of Victorian citizens and literary characters. As viewed through the post-structuralist theories of Michel Foucault, this dissertation examines how techniques like observation and surveillance granted power and control in the realm of appetite. Works analyzed include Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade”; Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” and “In An Artist’s Studio”; Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Mary Seacole’s Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands; and, Trollope’s Orley Farm. Analyses of Victorian ephemera, including military journals, cookbooks, and advertisements are also included to show how the Victorian appetite shaped the literature of the time period.