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Eating America: Crisis, Sustenance, Sustainability

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Edited By Justyna Kociatkiewicz, Laura Suchostawska and Dominika Ferens

This volume of essays examines the relationship between eating and crisis. The United States’ long-lasting economic and cultural hegemony raises a number of questions: Has America been – literally and metaphorically – eating, appropriating, exploiting, and molding the world in its own image, or has it been eaten, appropriated, and exploited as a (frequently criticized or disdained) source of ideas, ideology, and knowledge? What is the relation between the current ecological crisis and America’s consumerist economy, with its practices of food production and consumption, and its use of natural resources? What is America’s role in the ongoing crisis of modernity? And, if the crisis continues, where are the sources of sustenance?
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“Twas very hard to get down their filthy trash”: Investigating Food and Crisis in Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative(1682): Veronika Hofstätter

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“As drama was the ideal articulation for Elizabethan London, the jeremiad was for the tiny communities in New England” (52). With these words Perry Miller describes the “complex psychological doctrine,” a leading type of sermon, which Puritan ministers used to warn the congregation of upcoming crisis situations by giving a “doctrine,” “reasons,” as well as “applications” as a “scheme of reformation” to avert the impending disaster (Miller 29). And indeed, crisis situations abounded in the early modern world. As Rüdiger Kunow has stated: “[c]risis can … be understood as a way of coming to terms with change privileging rupture over continuity” (468). The managing of crisis depends on accepting change as based on a historical break rather than stressing continuity. This mechanism can be seen at work in colonial New England where four particular episodes of New England colonial history immediately come to mind in such a context: the Antinomian crisis, the Half-Way Covenant, King Philip’s War, and the Salem witchcraft trials. However, crisis situations were also part of life’s everyday challenges. Among those were the continuous fight against epidemics, the instability in the supply of healthy food crops, Native American attacks, and the perceived threat of lingering witchcraft. In this context, Mary Rowlandson’s narrative Of the Captivity and Restoration (1682)1 exemplifies an outstanding interplay of different moments of crisis in early America: an emotional crisis as Rowlandson became a witness of violence and loss; a spiritual crisis as she had to prove herself a worthy Puritan goodwife...

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