‘STARVING’ STUDENTS: GASTROPOETICS OF THE ‘LOWER’ BAROQUE IN THE POETRY OF WANDERING DYAKS

Authors

  • Olha Petrenko-Tseunova National University "Kyiv-Mohyl Academy"

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.15407/mics2019.07.023

Keywords:

food studies, everyday life, Baroque, wandering dyaks

Abstract

The author analyzes wandering dyaks as a specific group of 18th-century Ukrainian city and town intellectuals. During vacations and religious holidays, these young people went to high clergy and secular houses. They sang congratulatory songs about Christmas or Easter and delivered orations – poetic humorous speeches – abo school life and pupils’ wretchedness. For their performance, the wandering dyaks were rewarded, mostly with food. There was a special order from the administration of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy to release poor students for food begging with the obligation to return before the beginning of the school year. Therefore, such poems usually ended with a request for a reward.

Gastronomic poetics is one of the key tools of the «grassroots» baroque that appeared thanks to the intersection of the intellectual urban and folk rural cultures. This phenomenon became the basis for Ivan Kotlyarevsky’s «Eneida», a step towards new-time Ukrainian literature.

The texts analyzed in the article were first found in manuscript songbooks of 18th and early 19th century, both in Naddnipryanshchyna and Western Ukraine. It is noticeable that even after the end of the baroque epoch these songs were not forgotten, they were still performed, and ethnographers fixed them in various versions.

In contrast to the of «high» baroque, marked by the occurrence of metaphoricity and abstractness, one of the main characteristics of wandering dyaks’ poems is the emphasis on materiality, especially food. According to this, it is worth using gastrocriticism to interpret orations and travesties.

Gastronomic markers in the festive burlesque function as a series of oppositions: daily and ceremonial food; proper and improper; moderate and excessive; bestowed and stolen; banned and allowed; spiritual and carnal. Four aspects are investigated in the article. First of all, the self-image of ever-hungry students is closely reviewed. School life for common citizen had a clear association with poverty, which pointes the prominent role of malnutrition and forced fasting in poems of wandering dyaks. Secondly, the appearing of gastronomic utopias is proved as a reaction to a prolonged period of starvation. One more aspect is the conviction of excessive feeding. The last but not the least is the motive of giving, feasting and donating food in the poems of wandering dyaks.

The poetry of wandering dyaks consists of the element of folk culture, on the one hand, and the literary imagery, on the other. For the intellectual of the 18th-century nutrition, along with the usual meaning, reflects the unity of bodily and spiritual parts of human nature. In the baroque culture, the widespread metaphor is eating as a spiritual act, and the cognition is perceived as the saturation of the inner world. Nutrition is considered in two semantic terms: firstly, food as a sign of physicality and, potentially, sinfulness and seduction; secondly, food as the embodiment of eternal life, the celebration of vitality. The «high» baroque culture transmits the first vision. Instead, the «lower» culture is characterized by the second idea, which explains the emergence of gastronomic fantasies in the poems of wandering dyaks.

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Published

2019-11-25

How to Cite

Petrenko-Tseunova, O. (2019). ‘STARVING’ STUDENTS: GASTROPOETICS OF THE ‘LOWER’ BAROQUE IN THE POETRY OF WANDERING DYAKS. City History, Culture, Society, (7), 23–34. https://doi.org/10.15407/mics2019.07.023