Lecture on 'Fat and Happiness: Corpulence and the Emotions in the West ' by Christopher Forth

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society presents a guest lecture by Christopher Forth (University of Kansas) on 4 november 2015

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.

Professor Forth is the author of Masculinity in the Modern West: Gender, Civilization and the Body (2008), The Dreyfus Affair and the Crisis of French Manhood (2004), and Zarathustra in Paris: The Nietzsche Vogue in France, 1891-1918 (2001). He is currently completing a monograph entitled Flab: A Cultural History of Fat.

Wednesday 4 November, 16.15, Van Wijkplaats 4, Room 005

All welcome!

Please send an email to Jan Frans van Dijkhuizen if you would like to attend:

Last Modified: 13-10-2015