Project Title: Feeling Fat: the experience and treatment of fatness in early modern France (c.1500 – 1700)
HEIs: The University of Edinburgh and University of St Andrews
School: Edinburgh College of Art
Professor Jill Burke, Edinburgh College of Art, The University of Edinburgh.
Dr Emma Herdman, School of Modern Languages, University of St. Andrews.
About Scarlett’s Research
Fat Studies scholars identify heightened criticism of fatness during the sixteenth century, long before our modern notion of an “obesity epidemic”. Yet in a world before bathroom scales and the BMI – what did it mean to be fat, how was it defined, experienced, and ‘treated’? To address these questions, my project will examine the practices, narratives and fantasies that surrounded fatness in Renaissance France. A wealth of art and literature will be investigated alongside medical advice, material objects and personal records to chart how and why fat was constructed as a dangerous ‘other’; who benefitted from this representation; and where we can identify alternatives to this negative characterisation. Using feminist and postcolonial approaches to the body, I will explore the underlying ideological function and hidden labour involved in stigmatising certain bodies and standardising the ideal human form. By illuminating the historical construction of body size and elevating alternative responses, this project aims to challenge widely unquestioned anti-fat attitudes that prevail in contemporary society.
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