Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Gastronomy, Culture, and Religion in Late T. S. Eliot
by Mereani, Fadia, Ph.D., Middle Tennessee State University, 2017, 271; 10267036
Abstract (Summary)

T. S. Eliot’s contemporaries observed the manner in which he demonstrated both how culture can be a social construct and a performative act. In spite of accounts that emphasize the relationship between Eliot’s personal taste in food and drink and his literary and cultural taste, there is a scarcity of studies which explore the palatable images in his oeuvre. Therefore, the current project aims at providing an examination of these references from biographical, historical, cultural and literary perspectives and as an analysis of Eliot’s conscious use of gastronomy to create his persona as a pubic intellectual and to assert his connections with his British and European roots. A great section of the project is, then, devoted to an exploration of Eliot’s life in the States and later in Europe and the UK and the roles food and drink play in his understanding of literary and cultural taste. The following sections take the investigation a step further as they connect his analysis of gastronomical and literary taste with his attempt at delineating the concept of culture in Notes toward the Definition of Culture. The social factors which play an important role in seasoning his recipe for cultural nourishment, and which include class, lineage, gender, and/or age, are also examined in relation to gastronomy. After Eliot’s conversion to Anglo-Catholicism in 1927, his definition of culture widens to show the gastro-religious influence on cultural progress. His new attitude toward gastronomy is inspired by a modified version of Buddhism and how Anglo-Catholicism reconciles temporality with eternity and sensuality with spirituality through the doctrines of the Incarnation, the Eucharist, and the Original Sin. This religiously inspired attitude encourages embracing an ascetic view of food and drinks which, consequently, emphasizes vegetarianism and agricultural prosperity and a reserved attitude toward foreign culinary influences on British and European menus. Many of Eliot's early and late works, whether poems, plays, or critical essays, are discussed to explain the Eliotesque relationship between gastronomy and culture; however, there is a great emphasis on the texts written in the post-conversion period to illustrate the shift in his understanding of that relationship.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Petersen, Robert
Commitee: Barnett, Claudia, Hague, Angela
School: Middle Tennessee State University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Tennessee
Source: DAI-A 78/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: British and Irish literature
Keywords: Culture, Eliot, T. S., Gastronomy, Religion
Publication Number: 10267036
ISBN: 978-1-369-76113-9
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