Appel à communications – « Mondes gras. Gourmands et fainéants dans le Moyen Âge et la Renaissance / Fat Worlds. Feasters and Loafers in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times », Francfort

Call for participants to the international workshop “Fat Worlds. Feasters and Loafers in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times”

8-11 September 2021, Goethe-University of Frankfurt (webinar)

Deadline: 14th April 2021

“Fat worlds” include imaginary countries and real situations characterized by widespread gluttony and greed. They find expression in collective, festive and ritual experiences and in literary texts, in particular taking the form of Cockaigne and Carnival. In the representations of Cockaigne, the food motif is linked to other themes such as liberation from work, independence from economic values, and sexual freedom. The Carnival texts stage the subversive power of events that aim at reversal or that cause a temporary overthrow of the social order. The complexity and polysemy of representations of “fat worlds” from their first appearance in the twelfth century to the beginning of the eighteenth century, will be the subject of this international workshop. 

Popular tales, farces, comedies, heroic poems, parodic travelogues, and also medical treatises, cookbooks and sermons contain numerous references to the fantasy of food abundance. Through an interdisciplinary perspective, we would like to examine these texts with regard to the relationship between food and the body, between ritual and subversion, and to the role of dietary prescriptions, morality and medicine in the value system of the pre-modern era. Possible points of discussion are as follows:

– What are the constituent motifs of Carnival and Cockaigne? Do they change over the centuries?

– What value systems do they convey?

– How is food abundance described and what does it imply? Is the motif proposed in relation to sexual, moral, medical or economic elements?

– What relationships can we establish between historical situations and the spread of representations of “fat worlds”?

Over the four afternoons of the workshop, which will take place in the format of a Zoom webinar, various lectures will be given by established scholars in the fields of literary studies and food history. Allen J. Grieco, Florent Quellier, Bertrand Marquer, Timothy Tomasik and Francesca Pucci Donati are among the speakers who have accepted the invitation. This call is addressed at PhD students and post-doctoral researchers who wish to actively participate in the discussion sessions. Each participant is requested to present a literary or documentary text that can be used to animate the conversation and the comparative and interdisciplinary discussion of representations of “fat worlds”. There will also be an opportunity to read or reread and discuss some fundamental critical texts by Piero Camporesi, Michel Jeanneret, Samuel Kinser, Massimo Montanari and others. All the texts will be collected and distributed in advance to allow everyone adequate preparation time. The working languages will be English, Italian and French.

Proposals, including a motivation letter of no more than 600 words clarifying the candidate’s field of interest, should be sent by 14 April 2021 to the following address: The publication of an edited volume is envisaged following a review process of the contributions prepared and submitted after the workshop. The event is organized by Prof. Christine Ott and Dr. Roberta Colbertaldo within the DFG project “Fat Worlds. Utopian and anti-utopian discourses on food and the body in pre-modern times (France, Italy)” at the Institute of Romance Languages and Literature of the Goethe University in Frankfurt (

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