Alimentary School: Roald Dahl and the Biopolitics of Consumption.

Dandi Meng. Alimentary School: Roald Dahl and the Biopolitics of Consumption. Honors Thesis, University of Washington. 2014.

My aim with this thesis is to make sense of a literary phenomenon that I've often noticed but could never quite explain, namely, the frequency with which food and scenes of consumption appear in children's literature. In particular, I wish to give an account of these motifs as they appear in Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Matilda, an account that differs from the two dominant explanations that have been given by critics of children's literature thus far—that scenes of consumption are either teachable moments" that aid in children's acculturation or else stand-ins for matters of sex and sexuality. Neither of these accounts treats food motifs or children's literature as being worthy of serious study in their own right, since they both rely on linking these moments of consumption to more established areas of scholarship. I argue that we must instead examine how these scenes are implicated in biopower in terms of how consumption in Dahl's texts 1) is revealed to be productive and not only self-reproductive, 2) is managed through norms rather than through "laws," and 3) can appear to resist dominant biopolitical structures while actually reinforcing them."

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