Jennifer Malone finished her PhD in English Literature in late 2018 at the University of Washington, where she currently works as a Part-Time Lecturer. Her dissertation was on the human encounter with the food-object within transatlantic modernist literature, art, and culture.
Whatever else it may also be—a marker of aesthetic taste, class or culture, a momentary sensory delectation, a means of nourishment or survival, a mere prop for social engagement—an item of food is also necessarily an object. As is clear from recent discussions of object-agency and object-contingency within forms of materialist scholarship such as “thing theory” and material-ecological vitalism, the category of the object is vast and tendrilic, encompassing issues of subject-object relations and hierarchies, commodification and production, and the properties and potentialities of objects both as distinct entities and as they interact with the human body. However, such object-centered theories have infrequently attended to the specific material concerns of food-objects and food-adjacent objects (such as silverware), a particularly complex category of objects that heavily implicate the presence, actions, and experiences of the human body in a variety of ways both consumptive and non-consumptive, whilst prompting consideration of the act of food consumption as a practice that may unite—or at least mutually alter—object and (human) body.