Abyss: Everything is food

  • Karl Steel

DOI: 10.1057/pmed.2012.45

Cite this article as:
Steel, K. Postmedieval (2013) 4: 93. doi:10.1057/pmed.2012.45


Medieval death poetry revels in the appetites that proliferate around corpses. Death may be an end for a subject, but the subject is also an object for the appetites of others, which will themselves eventually be food objects for others. Few medieval works show this so clearly as the Disputation Between the Body and the Worms, a debate poem in which a body finds itself at odds with its own edibility and the competing interests of its own biome. A crowd of worms finally convinces the body to give up her self-possession, and to realize that nothing, not humanity, not wealth, not beauty, will let vulnerability be ‘outsourced,’ for all appetites, bodies, and desires, human and otherwise, will be humbled by the appetites and desires of others.

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl Steel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishBrooklyn College, CUNYBrooklyn

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