Cultures of the Abdomen

Diet, Digestion, and Fat in the Modern World

  • Christopher E. Forth
  • Ana Carden-Coyne

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Introduction: The Belly and Beyond

    1. Ana Carden-Coyne, Christopher E. Forth
      Pages 1-11
  3. Diet, Digestion, Excretion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-13
    2. Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
      Pages 15-30
    3. Joyce L. Huff
      Pages 31-49
    4. Alison Moore
      Pages 51-69
    5. Ana Carden-Coyne
      Pages 71-85
  4. Culture and the Abdomen

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 87-87
    2. Anne C. Vila
      Pages 89-104
    3. George Rousseau
      Pages 105-126
    4. Jay Geller
      Pages 127-145
    5. Ronald L. LeBlanc
      Pages 147-166
  5. Fat and Society

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 167-167
    2. Ken Albala
      Pages 169-183
    3. Lucia Dacome
      Pages 185-204
    4. Christopher E. Forth
      Pages 205-219
    5. Sander L. Gilman
      Pages 221-237
    6. Peter N. Stearns
      Pages 239-257
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 259-264

About this book


We live in a world obsessed with abdomens. Whether we call it the belly, tummy, or stomach, we take this area of the body for granted as an object of our gaze, the subject of our obsessions, and the location of deeply felt desires. Diet, nutrition, and exercise all play critical roles in the development of our body images and thus our sense of self, not least because how we are made to feel about bodies (both our own and those of others) is often grounded in dietary and lifestyle choices. Cultures of the Abdomen traces the history of social, cultural, and medical ideas about the stomach and related organs since the seventeenth century, and demonstrates that a focused study of the abdomen is necessary for understanding the deep historical meanings that underscore our contemporary obsessions with hunger, diet, fat, indigestion, and excretion. It locates that history from dietary ideals in early modern Europe to the vexing issue of American fat in the twenty-first century, surveying along the way developments in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia.


culture enlightenment Germany nutrition seventeenth century society

Editors and affiliations

  • Christopher E. Forth
    • 1
  • Ana Carden-Coyne
    • 2
  1. 1.Australian National UniversityAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for the Cultural History of Modern WarUniversity of ManchesterUK

Bibliographic information