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Paris conference: Shakespeare et les arts de la table

March 15, 2011

Johann Gregory (Cardiff University) will be heading to Paris tomorrow for the Congrès 2011 de la Société Française Shakespeare. The conference is focused on Shakespeare and the arts of the table.

Johann’s paper is entitled:

Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida:

viewing expectations as a matter of taste

W.R. Elton explains that Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida has “been estimated [to contain] twice as many images of food, cooking and related matters as in any other of its author’s works”. This may seem surprising, until we realise that the play utilises the language of food to create a poetics of expectation and taste. In the second act, Agamemnon says of Achilles:

all his virtues […]
Do in our eyes begin to lose their gloss,
Yea, like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish,
Are like to rot untasted.

The simile is part of a poetics that visualises spectatorship and expectation in culinary terms. Although Thersites’s performances are figured as a “cheese” to aid Achilles’ “digestion” that should be “served in to [his] table”, on the whole the drama is actually not consumed immediately by the audience. Rather, in a confusion of the senses, food becomes a visual metaphor for thinking an audience’s appetite for a play and other matters of taste. The audience is invited to watch Troilus and Cressida as a monster that eats up, in its mastic jaws, the notion of chivalry and “glorious deeds” that past versions of the story – in epic and romance – had been so keen to emphasise; it is these past traditions, the prologue promises, which “may be digested in a play”. The paper seeks to discover whether the play leaves us with “fragments, scraps, the bits, and greasy relics” of past literature, or if Shakespeare was cooking up something else.

 

Find out more about the conference here.

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One comment

  1. Congratulations and best of luck for anice journey and good presentation.
    sks



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