Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Century

By Kyla Wazana Tompkins | Go to book overview

2
“She Made the Table
a Snare to Them”
Sylvester Graham’s Imperial Dietetics

As one of the century’s best-known antimasturbation campaigners, Sylvester Graham has long been thought of, particularly in popular histories of food and medicine in the nineteenth century, as the apotheosis of nineteenth-century quackery.1 This chapter argues against the ongoing tendency to treat Sylvester Graham’s work as a punch line for the rhetorical excesses and perversities of his period. Excessive he is indeed, but as scholars have shown, the perversities with which Graham was associated—masturbation and vicious consumption among them—have a significant place in literary history.2 Indeed, when it comes to conversations about Graham—whom I take to be among the most breathtakingly literary of the antimasturbation campaigners—we might echo Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s words, when she writes of the furor surrounding her “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl” paper presented at the 1990 conference of the Modern Language Association, “An exploration of the literary aspects of autoeroticism seemed to leave many people gasping. That could hardly be because literary pleasure, critical self-security, and autoeroticism have nothing in common.”3 The perverse intensity of Graham’s interest in the signs, symptoms, and practices of what Bruce Burgett has called “heterosensualities”—the sensations, languages, and metalanguages of both alloerotic and autoerotic desire—seems to have had the effect of turning critics away from a detailed consideration of his work.4 Instead, it seems, discussion of Graham’s writing is pervaded (and cut short) by an unending giggle factor. As we will see, the deeply catachrestic—that is, the slippery, sensual, and savory—nature of his writing can make Grahamite logic difficult to parse. Inhabiting that difficulty, however, produces a singular portrait of early nineteenth-century “sexual” economies, whose

-53-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 308

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.