Timon of Athens, Food Transformations, and the World as Confectionary

Simon C. Estok

Abstract

In the transformation of early modern English food sources from the local to the international are a wide range of questions about the global-sourcing/local-demand conflict that was developing in Shakespeare’s time and continues today. Shakespeare’s food reveals the complexities of a network of global and local actors and transformations. As a performance, Timon of Athens potentially arouses sometimes intense visceral responses (ones that are peculiarly resonant with contemporary audiences) to Timon’s dream that the world is his confectionary. One of the results of performing the transformation of food from the local to the global (the play’s explicit representation of the world as Timon’s unsustainable confectionary) is that we are better able to see and understand ecological collapse: while anthropogenic ecological collapses in early modern times were relatively isolated, today’s collapses are more properly understood as global. We witness the transformative and deterritorializing potentials of food, even while such transformations are in the service of a deeply nationalist agenda that is troubling and unsustainable in its rejection of global connectedness. Performance is vital for excavating the layers and implications of food transformations and potentials in Timon of Athens, a play deeply relevant to food transformation debates current in the 21st century.


Keywords

early modern food; global-sourcing/local-demand; performance; sustainable food sourcing; Timon of Athens

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/3088