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Refiguring moderation in eating and drinking in late fourteenth- and fifteenth- century Middle English literature

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It has become something of a scholarly truism that during the medieval period, gluttony was combatted simply by teaching and practicing abstinence. However, this dissertation presents a more nuanced view on the matter. Its aim is to examine the manner

It has become something of a scholarly truism that during the medieval period, gluttony was combatted simply by teaching and practicing abstinence. However, this dissertation presents a more nuanced view on the matter. Its aim is to examine the manner in which the moral discourse of dietary moderation in late medieval England captured subtle nuances of bodily behavior and was used to explore the complex relationship between the individual and society. The works examined foreground the difficulty of differentiating bodily needs from gluttonous desire. They show that moderation cannot be practiced by simply refraining from food and drink. By refiguring the idea of moderation, these works explore how the individual’s ability to exercise moral discretion and make better dietary choices can be improved. The introductory chapter provides an overview of how the idea of dietary moderation in late fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Middle English didactic literature was influenced by the monastic and ascetic tradition and how late medieval authors revisited the issue of moderation and encouraged readers to reevaluate their eating and drinking habits and pursue lifestyle changes. The second chapter focuses on Langland’s discussion in Piers Plowman of the importance of dietary moderation as a supplementary virtue of charity in terms of creating a sustainable community. The third chapter examines Chaucer’s critique of the rhetoric of moderation in the speech of the Pardoner and the Friar John in the Summoner’s Tale, who attempted to assert their clerical superiority and cover up their gluttony by preaching moderation. The fourth chapter discusses how late Middle English conduct literature, such as Lydgate’s Dietary, revaluates moderation as a social skill. The fifth chapter explores the issue of women’s capacity to control their appetite and achieve moderation in conduct books written for women. Collectively, the study illuminates how the idea of moderation adopted and challenged traditional models of self-discipline regarding eating and drinking in order to improve the laity’s discretion and capacity to assess its own appetite and develop a healthy lifestyle for the community.

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2018

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Starving for justice: reading the relationship between food and criminal justice through creative works of the Black community

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ABSTRACT

Much attention has been given to food justice in both academic and activist communities as of late. This project adds to the growing discourse around food justice by using creative works produced by members of the black community as case

ABSTRACT

Much attention has been given to food justice in both academic and activist communities as of late. This project adds to the growing discourse around food justice by using creative works produced by members of the black community as case studies to analyze the relationship between food justice and the criminal justice system in their neighborhoods. In particular, this project examines two unique sources of creative expression from the black community. The first is the novel Been ‘Bout Dat, the story of a young boy Fattz, who is born into the projects of New Orleans and takes to street life in order to provide for his siblings and struggling single mother. Written in prison by Johnny Davis it offers a valuable perspective that is combined with historical context and statistical support to construct an understanding of how concepts of food and criminal justice influence each other. The second source is the lyrical content of several hip-hop songs from rappers such as Tupac Shakur, Mos Def, Nas, and Young Jeezy. Comparing the content of these works and the lived realities expressed in both brings new and useful insights about food justice and criminal justice as experienced in poor minority communities. Recognizing this relationship may illuminate solutions to food justice issues through criminal justice reform as well as inform fresh efforts at community renewal.

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2017