F.O.O.D. (fighting order over disorder): an analysis of food and its significance in the Australian novels of Christina Stead, Patrick White and Thea Astley

Frugtneit, Jane (2007) F.O.O.D. (fighting order over disorder): an analysis of food and its significance in the Australian novels of Christina Stead, Patrick White and Thea Astley. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The purpose of this thesis is to find a correlation between food as symbol and food as necessity, as represented in selected Australian novels by Christina Stead, Patrick White and Thea Astley. Food as a springboard to a unique interpretation of the selected novels has been under-utilised in academic research. Although comparatively few novels were selected for study, on the basis of fastidiousness, they facilitated a rigorous hermeneutical approach to the interpretation of food and its inherent symbolism. The principle behind the selection of these novels lies in the complexity of the prose and how that complexity elicits the “transformative powers of food” (Muncaster 1996, 31). The thesis examines both the literal and metaphorical representations of food in the novels and relates how food is an inextricable part of ALL aspects of life, both actual and fictional. Food sustains, nourishes and, intellectually, its many components offer unique interpretative tools for textual analysis.

Indeed, the overarching structure of the thesis is analogous with the processes of eating, digestion and defecation. For example, following a discussion of the inextricable link between food, quest and freedom in Chapter One, which uncovers contrary attitudes towards food in the novels discussed, the thesis presents a more complex psychoanalytic theory of mental disorders related to food in Chapter Two. The peripatetic nature of the mind and body and how this relates to food are reflected in the following chapter, which considers the nexus between dietetics, numerology and lexicology. A unique methodology is promulgated to examine how binaries such as black/white, reality/illusion and day/night are constructed, and how these relate to the significance of food in colonisation fiction. The final chapter relocates food to the corporeal through an examination of food in art and considers how this representation relates to defecation. Ultimately, the argument underscores the significance of food in literature, by showing that in their many facets references to food are a multi-interpretative tool for producing an aetiological and phenomenological discussion. To conclude, food is from somewhere, it is a commodity, and in literature food is going somewhere.

Item ID: 2022
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: food in literature, Australian novels, fiction, Patrick White, Christina Stead, Thea Astley, symbolism, mental disorders, eating disorders
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2008 06:11
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies @ 0%
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Last 12 Months: 42
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