This guide links you to resources for Comparative Literature 255 H: The Feast in Philosophy, Film, and Fiction for Spring 2015.
While its individual form and content may differ greatly, the feast or banquet functions as a strong symbol in most global communities. Food and feasting often defines community by establishing a connection between those who eat, what they eat and how they eat: as such it shapes national and cultural identities. The multiple purposes and nuances of food make it a rich theme in literature, film, and the visual arts. The food and banquet film has recently become a genre unto itself, and the outpouring of films are helpful in understanding cross-cultural differences in the social and philosophical understandings of what it is to be human.
Paying attention to philosophical contexts helps us become better readers of the role of food in contemporary film and fiction across time and across cultures, and perhaps it also helps us become more reflective citizens and consumers in our own everyday lives, as we consider one of our most basic human needs, along with what our own feasting can tell us about our contemporary assumptions about humanity. To this end, we will juxtapose readings and film from different cultures according to thematic dualisms such as necessity and luxury, love and wisdom, gluttony and sublimity, community and individualism, asceticism and consumerism, tradition and experimentation.
Food. Jan Švankmajer.