The Narrating Stomach : Appetite, Authority and Agency in Sydney Whiting's 1853 Memoirs of a Stomach
Sydney Whiting’s 1853 Memoirs of a Stomach provides a vehicle for investigating the body’s potential to resist human control and influence human activities. Such work is important to fat studies because a fear of such bodily agency underlies current Western fatphobia. Memoirs is modeled on eighteenth-century it-narratives, in which fictional nonhuman narrators recount their circulation through human systems of exchange. By granting the stomach authority over an erring “self,” Whiting’s embodied manifestation of the it-narrative reverses the usual hierarchy of mind over matter. However, the comic nature of Whiting’s tale simultaneously undermines the authority it assigns to the stomach. This ultimately destabilizes meaning in the text, opening up space for new ways of thinking about bodies and agency that extend beyond Cartesian dualism.