I am excited to announce that my paper has been accepted to Food! The Conference! at the CUNY Graduate Center. Here is the abstract for those of you who are interested:
Recipe for Restoration
Ben Jonson’s plays Volpone and Epicoene are both peppered with puns pertaining to the preparation and consumption of food. Both prologues humbly claim to be pandering to the palates of the audience. The first lines of the prologue of Volpone state “Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit / Will serve to make our play hit; / (According to the palates of the season).” Similarly, the prologue of Epicoene claims “Our wishes, like to those make public feasts, / Are not to please the cook’s taste, but the guests’.” However, as is evident from his plays like Sejanus, which are artfully crafted yet failed to generate praise in public productions, Jonson’s works are not composed solely for the purpose of pleasing the audience. He does not employ the sweet temptations of violence and bawd to entice the public to his table, “For, to present all custard, or all tart, / And have no other meats, to bear a part. / Or to want bread, and salt, were but course art” (Epicoene Prologue). I believe Jonson is challenging the palates of both theatergoers and his fellow playwrights to revert back to the classic recipe for drama in which adherence to the ingredients and measurements, in this case the rules of time, place, action, and decorum, is equally as important as tempting the senses of the consumer. In this paper I explore the origins and significance of Jonson’s consumption motif and its various manifestations in his most popular comedies, as well as raise questions about Jonson’s role as a recipe writer for Restoration drama.
I would love to hear your feedback and ideas as I edit this paper for the conference in March!