Food is a key theme in cultural studies, but often the approach focuses on the negative or problematic aspects of it: anorexia and other eating disorders, obesity and fat studies, outdoor eating rituals and social distinction, the critique of deeply rooted national preferences as a form of modern “mythology” (in the sense of Roland Barthes), the commercialization of snootiness, and the relationship between alimentary habits and climate change.
Anthropocene, posthumanism, biopolitics… Terms such as these have not only become very popular in academic circles, but they are also increasingly used in public debates, catalogues of exhibitions and policy documents. Sometimes a term suddenly becomes a fashionable buzzword, only to go out of fashion as quickly as it gained attention, but there are also terms that people keep on using because they help us to understand something important about contemporary society.
An archaic theme plays out in the interior world of a wealthy nuclear family. The superficiality and formality with which the members of the family relate to one another, in speech and interaction, creates a sense of unreality, planting a seed of doubt in the viewer’s mind as to the plane on which the drama unfolds.
The French twentieth-century photographer Robert Doisneau has become synonymous with his image of Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (1950), which shows a mise en scène of a couple embracing amidst the street’s hustle and bustle.
Everybody knows the situation: a delayed flight, and nothing more to read. Airport literature is then the answer to all our anxieties. In this case, it was entitled Swing Time (2016, Penguin edition in 2017) and its author is Zadie Smith.
James I. Porter’s “Disfigurations: Erich Auerbach’s Theory of Figura” (Critical Inquiry, vol. 44-1, 2017, pp., 80-113) is one of the best essays I’ve read in recent months.
Tourism is big business and “literary” travel guides are often marketed as culturally correct tools to upgrade the experience of the journey, be it abroad or at home. The new book by Eric Hazan (a publisher and political activist born in 1935 whose crisp and provocative ways of writing and thinking can be given as an example to many of those who are much younger than him) is not a book of this kind.