Eating Their Words

Cannibalism and the Boundaries of Cultural Identity

Edited by Kristen Guest
Foreword by Maggie Kilgour

Subjects: Literary Theory
Paperback : 9780791450901, 229 pages, September 2001
Hardcover : 9780791450895, 229 pages, September 2001

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Table of contents

Maggie Kilgour


1. Introduction: Cannibalism and the Boundaries of Identity
Kristen Guest

2. Food for Thought: Achilles and the Cyclops
Mark Buchan

3. Cannibalism in Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, Ireland, and the Americas
Robert Viking O'Brien

4. Robinson Crusoe Inc(orporates): Domestic Economy, Incest, and the Trope of Cannibalism
Minaz Jooma

5. Devouring the Disinherited: Familial Cannibalism in Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer
Julia M. Wright

6. Are You Being Served? Cannibalism, Class, and Victorian Melodrama
Kristen Guest

7. From Caliban to Cronus: A Critique of Cannibalism as Metaphor for Cuban Revolutionary Culture
Santiago Colás

8. Cannibals at the Core: Juicy Rumors and the Hollow Earth Chronotope in Ian Wedde's Symmes Hole
Brian Greenspan

9. Margaret Atwood's Wilderness Tips: Apocalyptic Cannibal Fiction
Marlene Goldman

10. The Missed Encounter: Cannibalism and the Literary Critic
Geoffrey Sanborn

List of Contributors


Examines the figure of the cannibal as it relates to cultural identity in a wide range of literary and cultural texts.


Linking cannibalism to issues of difference crucial to contemporary literary criticism and theory, the essays included here cover material from a variety of contexts and historical periods and approach their subjects from a range of critical perspectives. Along with such canonical works as The Odyssey, The Faerie Queene, and Robinson Crusoe, the contributors also discuss lesser known works, including a version of the Victorian melodrama Sweeny Todd, as well as contemporary postcolonial and postmodern novels by Margaret Atwood and Ian Wedde. Taken together, these essays re-theorize the relationship between cannibalism and cultural identity, making cannibalism meaningful within new critical and cultural horizons.

Contributors include Mark Buchan, Santiago Colas, Marlene Goldman, Brian Greenspan, Kristen Guest, Minaz Jooma, Robert Viking O'Brien, Geoffrey Sanborn, and Julia M. Wright.

Kristen Guest is Lecturer at the University of Toronto at Scarborough.


"The nine essays collected in the volume appropriately complicate the term 'cannibalism' and demonstrate how its usage is often ambivalent … The collection may prove useful for critics … especially for those who desire to read a collection that combines critical complexity with close reading strategies. " — The Eighteenth Century: A Current Bibliography

"We have come a long way from preliminary discussions of cannibalism as 'simply' an anthropological fact of some curiosity (and not a little horror and revulsion). Instead, the essays here situate the multiple, varied, and sometimes conflicting discourses of cannibalism within a wide range of cultural and social practices in such a way as to render cannibalism thinkable within new critical and cultural horizons. This book makes an important and significant contribution to current discussions of cannibalism and its complex relation to culture and cultural identity. " — Howard Marchitello, editor of What Happens to History: The Renewal of Ethics in Contemporary Thought