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Scholarly Undergraduate Research Journal at Clark

Faculty Mentor Contact Information

Lola Juan-Moreno

Faculty Mentor Email

djuanmoreno@clarku.edu

Abstract

Food has a dual physical and sociocultural relationship to human life. This duality positions images of food as uniquely powerful when subverted in literary or aesthetic representations for the purpose of evoking what Joyce Carol Oates (1998) calls “aesthetic fear.” Drawing on symbolism primarily from Classical mythology, Western European fairy tales, American horror movies, and resistance poetry from the Spanish Civil War, this paper explores four symbolic subversions of the food chain (when hunters are hunted; bloodthirsty plants; cannibalism; and hunger). With particular attention to gender roles and natural life cycles, these narratives illuminate the ways in which food symbolism disrupts cultural norms in order to evoke fear from an audience—not just on behalf of our physical safety, but also for the survival of our collective humanity.

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