Eating Disorders in Contemporary Women’s Writing
Edited By Petra M. Bagley, Francesca Calamita and Kathryn Robson
Introduction: Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating? (Petra M. Bagley / Francesca Calamita / Kathryn Robson)
Petra M. Bagley, Francesca Calamita and Kathryn Robson Introduction Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating? This cross-cultural book on the fictional depiction of eating disorders in contemporary European women’s writing came about after the success of the symposium ‘Paradoxical Languages’, which Francesca Calamita organ- ised together with Gill Rye at the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing (Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London) in May 2014. The selected contributions included here represent the language areas of the three editors, Petra M. Bagley, Francesca Calamita and Kathryn Robson, namely German, Italian and French. Throughout the history of western culture, the relationship between women and food has been multifaceted, and often perceived as a metaphor for something else. From the much-debated biblical episode of Eve and the apple to present-day society, women’s eating habits have been read not only as acts of self-nourishment but also as displays of affection, sexuality and tendency to sin. This multifaceted relationship between women and food reaches its crisis point in the development of contemporary discus- sion on eating disorders which, however, have existed under numerous guises for centuries. Pathological starvation and binging are an unidiomatic and para- doxical language employed by women – and more recently by men – to communicate their deepest feelings, express their identity and protest about their socio-cultural roles. Since the 1970s, feminist scholars have highlighted the significant link between anorexia nervosa and social con- text. Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue (1978) and Hunger Strike (1986), Kim Chernin’s The Hungry...
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