Better than words: expressing feelings with foods in Mass Observation wartime diaries

Chevalier, Natacha (2013) Better than words: expressing feelings with foods in Mass Observation wartime diaries. University of Sussex. Journal of Contemporary History, 14. pp. 17-24.

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Abstract

This paper, based on the examination of selected wartime diaries from the Mass Observation Archive, tackles the expression of intimate feelings through food practices. Exploring personal testimonies, it presents how, during a time of scarcity and shortage, food becomes a precious accessory to express personal feelings and a supportive medium to demonstrate love or friendship to friends or loved ones, whomever and wherever they could be.
The result of this exploration, supported by various studies and reports on wartime emotions and human behaviours, shows how personal feelings were expressed by something better than words: valuable food. It also demonstrates to what extent the smallest emotional boundary can become vital when facing hard times through some examples of quite peculiar behaviours reported by the diarists.
From the gift of a piece of cheese to the sacrifice of the meat ration, this paper suggests that food practices can become a valuable indicator of personal feelings such as love and friendship, but also loneliness and anxiety.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Depositing User: Natacha Chevalier
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2014 10:13
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2017 07:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/47880

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