Andrew Warnes

Related Work: 

Savage Barbecue
(Andrew Warnes)

lecturer in English

My work as an American Studies scholar began with a book on food and hunger in African-American culture. Hunger Overcome? (Georgia, 2004) draws attention to images of abundance and avoidable want in the fiction of Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright and Toni Morrison. In 2007 I folowed this with a critical introduction, Richard Wright's Native Son (Routledge, 2007). My work on cultural mythologies of barbecue began as an offshot of Hunger Overcome but in time led to a second monograph. Savage Barbecue: Race, Culture, and the Invention of America's First Food (Georgia, 2008) shows that barbecue was an invented tradition, a word that lacked any meaningful American root, and which has always instead merged myriad Indian cultures into a single myth of antithetical savagery. Savage Barbecue's principal interest is thus in the image of America in European and European American cultures, and while it considers a great deal of colonial writing it also explores much English material, including the scarcely believable Ned Ward's The Barbacue Feast: or, The Three Pigs of Peckham (1707).

My new monograph, American Tantalus: Horizons, Happiness and the Impossible Pursuits of Classic American Literature, has now been published. In this book I try to argue that modern American stories frequently describe a tantalising effect, in which their protagonists reach for an alluring or beautiful object only for it to withdraw from them. In this book I do delve into the Greek legend of Tantalus, but I spend a lot more time on what I take to be its modern US echoes: Toni Cade Bambara on toys, Richard Ford on happiness, John Updike on driving, John Cheever on swimming, Toni Morrison on dolls. Secondly, and a bit less intellectually, a literary agent is currently representing to publishers a crime novel, Black Sheep, that follows a detective of Caribbean and Yorkshire descent, Keith Bishop, around his Whitby hometown.