Publication Date



reading list, book recommendation, fat culture


If next semester’s reading list is feeling a bit thin, consider fattening it up with The Culture of Obesity in Early and Late Modernity: Body Image in Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, and Skelton, an important new book by Elena Levy-Navarro. The book consists of six chapters, followed by extensive endnotes and a useful index. The first two chapters introduce the next four, and seek to build a history from which a fat culture can be formed. In the last four chapters, Levy- Navarro flexes her (fat-blanketed) literary anthropologist muscles by looking for symbolic meanings of fat in selected works of Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, and Skelton. The thesis defended in these chapters is that when these authors feature fat, they do so in order to symbolize defiance of the thin-centric courtly regime, to personify immoral excess, and to demonstrate the dangers of modern classification systems.