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Department of English

University of Mississippi

The Works-in-Progress Seminar Series presents: Karen Raber Friday, Apr. 18th 3-4pm.

fpi14Department of English Professor Karen Raber will present “Animals at the Table:  Making Meat in Early Modern Europe” in the Hannah-Ford Room (Bondurant Hall 2nd Fl.) as part of the Spring 2014 Works-in-Progress Seminar Series.
Meat has become the monarch of the meal, surrounded by fawning courtiers (vegetables), often enthroned (on starches or other ingredients) and crowned (with cheeses or sauces).  Recent adventures in pink slime and petri dish meats have brought home how hard it is to decenter “real” meat from this sovereign position.  But it hasn’t always been this way: only at a fairly late date in its etymology did the term “meat” begin to signify specifically the flesh of a dead animal—until that time, it was simply a generic term for all food.  Meat’s etymology thus suggests that something happened in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, something beyond the economic and demographic changes usually cited in literature to date, to transform the role of meat in English and European culture.  This project takes up three ways early modern meat functions as a quasi-object engaged in complex interactions with human bodies, with other meats, and with the objects and subjects involved in its creation: the attempt to make meat a “performer” at the banquet table; the creation of “transgenic”  or masquerading meats; and the representation of meat as an architectural environment in the butcher shop genre paintings of the late sixteenth century. These I hope will provide new ways to think about the material, historical, and ethical dimensions of meat-eating.
Karen Raber is a professor in the Department of English here at the University of Mississippi. Some of her interests include Early Modern studies, ecocriticism, and animal studies. For more information on Dr. Raber’s publications and research including her new book, Animal Bodies Renaissance Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) please visit her faculty profile page:

The Works-in-Progress Seminar Series is hosted by the English Graduate Student Body and open to all. The seminars consist of a thirty-minute presentation followed by a Q & A discussion where feedback and further suggestions by both faculty and other graduate students are highly encouraged! A version of the material to be presented on will be sent out to those on the English Department listserve closer to the event. Those not on the listserve who would like a copy, or for more information about this or other Works-in-Progress series events, please contact