On November 3, Professor Christopher E. Forth will present his research on the cultural history of fat in a lecture at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, entitled ‘Fat and Happy? Corpulence and the Emotions in the Modern West.’
The old English proverb ‘laugh and grow fat’ seems counter-intuitive to our modern outlook on corpulence. Implying that mirthful happiness is at once cause and effect of fleshy bodies, this bit of traditional wisdom flies in the face of contemporary beliefs that fatness is more likely to be symptomatic of unhappiness and desperation. Surveying a range of texts from antiquity to the present, this paper unpacks the complicated relationship between corpulence and the emotions in European culture. It proposes that our current skepticism about fatness and happiness partly reflects the inherently ambiguous ways in which ‘fat’ and ‘fattening’ have been understood in the West.
15.30-18.00 hrs in room 10A-20 in the Main Building of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105.