Hunger and Waste (Theme Issue of LITERATURE AND MEDICINE, Volume 39, Number 2, Fall 2021)
Issue Editor: Isabelle Meuret
This issue of Literature and Medicine will interrogate expressions of hunger and waste in both literary and biomedical contexts.
Hunger is a physiological disposition, a daily preoccupation, and a metaphor for desire. On another scale, global hunger—leading to malnutrition and starvation—affects hundreds of millions living in poverty. As for waste, the dearth, careless use, or squandering of resources, together with climate change and other environmental challenges, have raised new concerns about food supplies and unequal access.
Literary variations on the theme of hunger and waste span from the stories of hard-line strikers to those of hunger artists or modern anorexics. Famine fiction is a genre in itself. Memoirs by eating-disordered patients have replaced fasting saints’ hagiographies. Likewise, doctors and caregivers are confronted with the complications of bodies wasting away: subjects may be affected by severe pathologies, suffer dietary restrictions, endure invasive treatments, or resist nutritional intervention or rehabilitation. But while inanition can be lethal, fasting also proves therapeutic. Severe calorie restriction endangers the functions of the organism, induces alterations in energy metabolism, results in nutrient deficiencies and dehydration—yet abstaining from food may cause health benefits in terms of weight loss, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Both literature and biomedicine grapple with issues pertaining to hunger and waste in terms of representations (How, by whom, to what ends are stories of starvation told? How do the mechanisms of hunger and waste work? What are the effects of malnutrition on mind and body?); significations(What are the social, political, religious meanings of hunger? Is anorexia a response to trauma?); aggravations (What are the consequences of famine on vulnerable populations? How does emaciation interpellate the other?); counteractions (Which clinical, ethical, and humanitarian responses best address food deprivation? What are the challenges of (re-)feeding individuals and entire nations?)
These questions show the many avenues for problematizing hunger and waste in fields such as the health and medical humanities, cognitive literary criticism, fat and hunger studies, and narrative medicine. They invite interdisciplinary dialogue with sociology, philosophy, history, psychology, anthropology, media and cultural studies, and performing and visual arts. They also encourage and welcome intersectional methodologies, for instance in connection with disability and lgbtq+ studies, or critical race theory. In any instance, proposals should consider literature or biomedicine, or both, in their broadest sense, as points of reference, and will ideally fit in one of these topical categories:
- Food insecurity; malnutrition in times of poverty, famines, wars, exiles, and epidemics.
- Food waste; including protest against consumerism, or environmental impact thereof.
- Hunger strikes; political and/or subversive resistance to coercion and oppression.
- Fasting vs feasting; asceticism, relative to spiritual or religious taboos and rituals.
- Anorexia; pathologization, medicalization, and treatment of self-starvation.
- Hunger and anger; expression of rage, of ravenous appetites and insatiable desires.
Strong submissions that do not quite fit into the theme issue as it takes shape will also be considered for inclusion in general issues of the journal.
Deadline for submission: May 1, 2021. Address inquiries to Isabelle.Meuret@ulb.be.
Call for Papers and Guidelines for Contributors
Literature and Medicine is a peer-reviewed journal publishing scholarship that explores representational and cultural practices concerning health care and the body. Areas of interest include disease, illness, and health; the cultures of biomedical science and technology and of the clinic; disability; and violence, trauma, and power relations as these are represented and interpreted in broadly defined archives of verbal, visual, and material texts.Literature and Medicine features one thematic and one general issue each year. Past theme issues have explored identity and difference; contagion and infection; cancer pathography; the representations of genomics; and the narration of pain.
Literature and Medicine is published semiannually. Literature and Medicine editors will consider essay clusters devoted to a particular topic or written on a specific occasion. Submissions on any aspect of literature and medicine will be considered, but the journal rarely publishes short notes, personal essays, or creative writing. Authors are advised to look carefully at past issues of the journal (available on the journal website) before submitting their work. Manuscripts should be between 5,000 and 9,000 words in length. Please include an abstract of 100–150 words, and 3–5 keywords. All submissions should have text, end notes, and bibliography double-spaced and prepared according to guidelines in The Chicago Manual of Style, current edition. Authors will be responsible for securing permission to include visual images, figures, or verbal quotations that exceed fair use.
Literature and Medicine is a peer-reviewed journal. Authors’ names should appear only on a cover sheet, and any identifiers in the text should be masked so manuscripts can be reviewed anonymously. Literature and Medicine reviews only unpublished manuscripts that are not simultaneously under review for publication elsewhere.
Manuscripts must be submitted in digital form (.doc, .docx, or .rtf) through our website: https://lit-med.scholasticahq.com.
Correspondence should be sent to: Isabelle.Meuret@ulb.be.