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6. HUMANITIES, General literature studies
Food is fundamental to life. It is also fundamental to culture; through our production, manipulation and consumption of foodstuffs, the way in which we eat has amassed a range of rituals and rules. This suggests that food can be used to indicate more than mere biological need. Food and foodways are a common occurrence throughout literature, not least children’s literature. This thesis applies gastrocriticism as a paradigm to investigate the use of food and foodways in Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers, St. Clare’s and The Naughtiest Girl school series. Gastrocriticism is an emerging form of literary criticism that considers the complex relationships of humans to each other and the world they inhabit through food. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach utilising work from a broad range of fields including, anthropology, sociology, history and literary.
Food is abundant in Blyton’s work. This is particularly evident in her three school series. The boarding-schools becomes a home-from-home; food helps to form and cement friendships through the sharing of meals together, it may also reveal group structures, hierarchies or the social class of the characters. Food also helps to establish a specific genre through the use of tropes, conventions and food practices. These three series were written at a time of social upheaval in Britain and the world: the Second World War and subsequent period of austerity. The food and foodways displayed in the text can reveal much about the milieu in which they were written, describing both realities and fantasies that capture the zeitgeist of the era. In short, a gastrocritical approach offers a full and serious consideration of the importance of food in these works which enriches our understanding of them.
Broomfield, R. (2022). More Than Midnight Feasts?: A Gastrocritical Reading of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers, St. Clare’s and The Naughtiest Girl in the School Series [Technological University Dublin]. DOI: 10.21427/5B77-C641