Every school child has read Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the story of an itinerant schoolteacher, poetaster, and rejected suitor named Ichabod Crane who witnesses the apparition of a headless horseman, that terrifying spectre whose detached cranium is in fact nothing but a pumpkin. Over the years this country's most famous ghost story has been interpreted in many waysas political allegory, archetypal comedy, forerunner of the American gothic traditionbut never specifically as a piece about food. Gut Reaction: The Enteric Terrors of Washington Irving will examine the role of squash and other edibles in Irving's work and seek to define a relationship between the early American food story and the early American ghost story, the link between what Irving once called America's "eating mania" and gut terror.

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