How an Eating Disorder May Have Informed Marianne Moore’s “Nine Nectarines”

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Jessica Mehta


How do eating disorders inform and reveal themselves in works of Marianne Moore? Using archival research at The Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia along with medical texts and theories of the 1930s, I consider Moore’s “Nine Nectarines” as a means of teasing out how eating disorders play a prevalent role in her overarching oeuvre. Disorders and diseases such as depression, anxiety, and addiction have received plenty of attention as a lens to approaching a poet’s work. However, eating disorders are largely left out of these types of analyses, mirroring the unfortunate fact that eating disorders today persist as the deadliest, most under-diagnosed, and under-insured of any mental disorder. Such an oversight is glaring, particularly considering how relevant food and hunger are as symbolism in modern poetry. Failing to incorporate the role(s) eating disorders may play in a likely anorectic’s work (Moore’s) leaves a gaping disparity in a poet’s or poem’s comprehensive literary analysis. This manuscript aims to play a role in filling this disparity by focusing on eating disorders as lens with Moore’s work.

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Mehta, J. (2020). How an Eating Disorder May Have Informed Marianne Moore’s “Nine Nectarines”. Humanities Bulletin, 3(2), 208–224. Retrieved from