Gastropoetics in the Jian’an Period: Food and Memory in Early Medieval China

Robert Cutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The importance of the feast in the Jian’an period was already mentioned by Jian’an literary figures themselves, and the role of such feasts in the creation of poetical works and epistolary writing is well known. It has even been noted that the memory of such feasts is largely responsible for the very notion of a Jian’an literary period. In this article, an examination of works in various genres shows that Jian’an writing on food and the transitory act of eating contributes to a gastropoetics, a term used here as a shorthand for the complex of relationships involving food, cultural practice and cultural memory, poetic inheritance and poetic production, social bonds and social identity— a way of looking at poetry that encompasses both aesthetic singularity and social implications. A stage in the development of poetry involving food imagery is elucidated and works that have sometimes been disparaged as trivial are shown to have had immediate social value and to have embodied old and enduring elements of culture and cultural memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalEarly Medieval China
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Cao Zhi
  • feasts
  • food
  • gastropoetics
  • gong yan shi
  • Jian’an
  • memory
  • poetry
  • Sevens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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