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Eating Dwelling Gagging:

Eating Dwelling Gagging:

Hawthorne, Stoddard, and the Phenomenology of Possession

(p.83) 2 / Eating Dwelling Gagging
The Body of Property
Chad Luck
Fordham University Press

This chapter argues that two New England writers, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Elizabeth Stoddard, each rework the discourse of antebellum diet reform into a nuanced theory of property and domestic space. In House of the Seven Gables and The Morgesons, the two authors identify the phenomenological experience of eating as a fundamental aspect of appropriation, a primordial form of “alimentary possession.” At the same time, this chapter demonstrates how both authors capitalize on the medico-physiological language of the diet reformers in order to establish an analogy between the alimentary body and the space of the home. Doing so reveals the ways in which eating helps condition the inside/outside structure of domestic space. Whereas Hawthorne ultimately laments the “masculine” market’s invasion of the alimentary home, however, Stoddard discovers radical potential in a “feminine” gift-economy at odds with this all-consuming market.

Keywords:   Nathaniel Hawthorne, Elizabeth Stoddard, House of the Seven Gables, The Morgesons, eating, diet reform, property, domestic space, phenomenology, gift

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