CFP: Taste and Disgust in Late Antiquity

International Medieval Congress, 3-6 July 2023, University of Leeds, UK

The Postgraduate and Early Career Late Antiquity Network (LAN)

The aim of this strand is to discuss taste as a category of late ancient experience. The overall theme of IMC 2023 is ‘Networks and Entanglements’ and we encourage speakers to think about how late antique networks, entanglements, and divisions were animated by ideas of taste. As a system of discernment, taste, and its corollary disgust, mediated the intimate process of incorporating foreign substances into the body. By late antiquity, this biological process for selecting foodstuffs had acquired powerful social and moral connotations. One could have taste in foods, but also in people, in institutions, in goods, in practices, in ideas. Taste had become a means of communicating preferences within all sorts of categories; it expressed and critiqued cultural ideas. We therefore invite papers that think expansively about ‘taste’ as a category of historical analysis: from taste as part of an individual’s sensory perception, to the range of cultural tastes, snobberies and resentments that united and bounded late antique societies and empires. 

We invite postgraduate and early career researchers from a variety of backgrounds to discuss taste and/or distaste in late antiquity across a series of panels. Suggested areas for discussion include, but are not limited to:

–       Taste as part of the late antique sensory repertoire

–       Taste and the risk of contamination/taboo

–       The usefulness of taste as a category of historical inquiry

–       The role of environmental and/or commercial factors in shaping late ancient diets

–       Taste and nutrition in medical thought

–       The role of taste in liturgical and ceremonial life

–       Material evidence for late antique taste

–       Differential experiences of taste 

–       The morality of taste (e.g. disgust of heretics and othered groups) 

–       Cultural tastes and the maintenance of social bonds and networks

–       Disgust and tastelessness 

–       Taste as metaphor (e.g. in political or religious thought) 

Abstracts should be limited to 300 words and accompanied by a short academic bio. The deadline for submission is 11:59pm (GMT) on Friday, 2nd September 2022. Abstract submissions and/or queries should be sent here.