Putting Winsor McCay’s iconic comic strip The Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend into conversation with the federal government’s reorganization of consumable goods into toxic, intoxicating and medicinal substances at the turn of the twentieth century, this talk reconsiders the narrative of progressive-era governmental benevolence – in particular the Food and Drug Act of 1906 – to consider where and how affective form and materiality became aligned with the racialized carcerality. Focused on the lines between politics and aesthetics as they were entrenched as law in the early twentieth century, this talk also considers the limits of aesthetic formalism as a methodology that has historically excluded minoritarian critique
Kyla Wazana Tompkins is Associate Professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies at Pomona College and a former food writer and restaurant critic. Today, as a scholar of 19th-century U.S. literature with a continuing interest in the relationship between food and culture, she writes about the connections between literature and a wide range of topics: food, eating, sexuality, race, culture, film and dance. Her 2012 book, Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the Nineteenth Century, received the 2012 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize from the American Studies Association and tied for the Best Book in Food Studies Award, presented by the Association for the Study of Food and Society.