Kindred Spirits

Representations of Alcohol in Literature and Film

by José Díaz-Cuesta (Volume editor) ANTHONY PALMISCNO (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 180 Pages


The book offers an invaluable introduction to the topic of the representation of alcohol
in literature and film from antiquity to the present.
The first part deals with literature and includes a genealogy of the relationship between
alcohol and fiction. The authors set two Victorian ghost stories and a Nigerian phantasmagorical
fable as examples of how alcohol dilutes the boundaries between the
living and the dead. The part devoted to film approaches the matter of alcohol both
as a personal vice and a vehicle of social interaction. The authors explore American,
Irish, and Polish films, paying particular attention to the masculinities they portray.
The whole volume can serve as a textbook on these issues. The books and films analyzed
will constitute an ample reading and viewing list for a university course.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Kindred Spirits: An Introduction (José Díaz-Cuesta and Anthony Palmiscno)
  • Part I Alcohol in Literature
  • 1 The Transformations of Dionysus: Chasing the Ancient God of Wine through History (Freja Gyldenstrøm)
  • 2 “Well, I’ve Been Drinking, but What I Saw Was Real”: Unreliability of Sight in Two Victorian Short Stories (Kateřina Valentová)
  • 3 A Hero and His Quest: Gods, Magic, and Alcohol in The Palm-Wine Drinkard (Isabel Gil-Naveira)
  • Part II Alcohol in Film
  • 4 “You want water, you better go dunk you head in the horse trawl back there”: Socio-Cultural Aspects of Drinking in Polish Westerns (Maja Daniel)
  • 5 “Times Have Changed”: The Pub, Alcohol, and Masculinities in Stephen Frears’s The Snapper (Mar Asensio-Aróstegui and José Díaz-Cuesta)
  • 6 The Drunkard’s Guilt and Trauma in Manchester by the Sea (Alicia Muro)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index

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The editors of this book met for the first time in person when most of its chapters had been approved and revised. It was in the summer of 2021, at Parque del Carmen in Logroño, that we both realized that it had been thanks to Virginia Garretas, who has lectured at the University of La Rioja, that we had met online. Our first thank you is to her, since had she not intervened, we would have never met – in person nor virtually.

After our first online meeting in 2020, we soon decided that if we worked in tandem, we would be able to bring this book to life. We thought that an edited volume would be the best way of putting together a collection on new representations of alcohol in literature and film. Hence, we invited scholars from Spain and other parts of Europe to collaborate in this collective effort.

Our biggest thanks are to them, to our authors, whom we have sometimes pushed to the limit to meet one of our, as we like to call them, lifelines. So, thanks to each of them, each of you: Alicia Muro, Freja Gyldenstrøm, Isabel Gil-Naveira, Kateřina Valentová, Maja Daniel, and Mar Asensio-Aróstegui (in alphabetical order of their first names). Although the COVID-19 pandemic put us in connection, we have not all met together yet. Let us hope that the virus’s diminution will allow all of us to meet in person as soon as possible, to toast to this book, to life, and to other publications to come.

We are grateful to the University of La Rioja, and especially to Belén Ayestarán and Eduardo Fonseca, who were both, successively, Vice-Presidents of Research (and also of Internationalization in the case of the latter), who thought that this book deserved to be supported by the University of La Rioja.

We would like to say “thanks” and “danke” to Ulrike Döring, Senior Commissioning Editor at Peter Lang, who has always provided words of encouragement during the writing and editing process.

Additionally, we thank the Asociación Cultural Trama y Fondo, a space for open discussions on so many matters, including the gods of wine and other alcoholic beverages.

We would also like to thank Cristina Flores, Melania Terrazas and Carlos Villar for sharing their previous experience in the editing process with us. Special thanks go to Bernardo Sánchez who kindly lent us one of his film reel tins.

Finally, we thank our families and friends, who understood that a book on alcohol in literature and film had to be delightfully intoxicating and that it required our utmost effort. Thank you to you all for your unwavering support ←9 | 10→through this marathon, especially during a global pandemic that has affected us all in so many ways.

Anthony Palmiscno and José Díaz-Cuesta

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José Díaz-Cuesta and Anthony Palmiscno

Kindred Spirits: An Introduction

This anthology casts a new light on literary and filmic representations of alcohol from antiquity to the present, interrogating its potential as cultural symbol and historical artefact through textual analysis.

When we first considered the possibility of editing a book on these issues, we immediately decided that it was necessary to check whether there was a research gap in the group of books devoted to the matter in English. Hence, we revised the most important ones published this century. The following is a succinct summary of our findings.

John Varriano’s Wine: A Cultural History (2010) is only focused on wine, and although it does deal with artistic representations, it is more of a reference work that addresses wine-related subjects superficially (it was published for a minor exhibition), ultimately not as in-depth as Kindred Spirits.

Thomas M. Wilson’s Drinking Cultures (2005) and Peter Boyle et alia’s Alcohol: Science, Policy, and Public Health (2013) are neither focused on fiction nor film, unlike Kindred Spirits. The former provides more of a panoramic vision of the field, while our anthology embarks on analyses through specific case studies. The latter only contains two chapters on alcohol in literature and film, out of a total of forty-eight, and it is focused on science, policy, and public health, as its title suggests. Boyle et alia’s anthology addresses what alcohol contains, does, how it is used, and how it should be consumed in society. There is more of a prescriptive tone to analysis than a textual one, the latter of which is presented in Kindred Spirits.

Adam Colman’s Drugs and Addiction Aesthetic in Nineteenth-Century Literature (2019) is likely the book-length study that comes closest to that proposed in Kindred Spirits but focused on a specific moment in time, dealing with British literature of the nineteenth century. The Victorian era is touched upon in this anthology as well, but we think that the reader will get acquainted with a much wider use of the theme of alcohol in literature, both theoretically and culturally. It is a clear strength, we think, that in the anthology the authors for each chapter have not all been working towards confirming the same core thesis but provide the reader with a wider, diverse approach to the subject matter.

The research gap, therefore, did exist, so we asked seven authors to write on the matter from various perspectives. We did not want them to research why ←11 | 12→alcohol is such an important element in fiction in several cultures, but how it is manifested in the texts they had chosen to analyze. This book differs from other books on alcohol, literature, and film like the ones mentioned above because it deals with these topics in a very compelling variety of arguments and contexts within a compact size, which makes it more readable with an interdisciplinary approach.

The book consists of two sections: Alcohol in Literature, and Alcohol in Film.

Representations of alcohol in literature tend to carry a variety of preconceived notions, particularly as a crutch for authors as they search for inspiration or solace during the writing process. The first part of Kindred Spirits deconstructs alcohol in a different light as contributors describe the drink’s ability to reflect the human condition in several works of fiction.

The film section delves deep into the matter of alcohol both as a personal vice and a vehicle of social interaction.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (March)
alcohol and fiction literature and film representation of alcohol in Films
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 180 pp., 2 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

José Díaz-Cuesta (Volume editor) ANTHONY PALMISCNO (Volume editor)

José Díaz-Cuesta studied English at the Universities of Oviedo (Spain) and Leeds (UK). He completed his MA in film studies at the University of Valladolid (Spain). He holds a PhD from the University of La Rioja (Spain), where he is a senior lecturer of English literature and film. His teaching and research interests are mainly in Anglo-American and Irish film and literature and the relationships between both disciplines, particularly in their representations of masculinities. He has directed and produced several short films as part of the courses he has been teaching. Anthony Palmiscno is a PhD candidate of Spanish at The Ohio State University (USA), specializing in contemporary Iberian cultural studies. His primary research interests include cultural branding and identity performance through wine events and festivals in the Spanish autonomous community of La Rioja, and how such gastronomic expressions sustain regional identity within the larger context of Spain. Other academic interests include representations of wine in contemporary Spanish literature, cultural sustainability through culinary practice and ritual, language pedagogy, performance pedagogy, and technology-enhanced learning in the foreign language classroom.


Title: Kindred Spirits
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182 pages