“I Went through Hell That Night and Back Again!”: An Annotated Examination of the Dumb Supper Ritual

Cory Thomas Hutcheson (Middle Tennessee State University)

An Ozark folktale describes a young woman and her friends performing a silent eating ritual called ‘The Dumb Supper.’ This rite, done to divine the identity of future spouses, appears in numerous sources from North America and England, often played by young people as a party game akin to a seance. Many versions of the ritual include warnings of dire consequences or omens of impending death and woe. This paper explores several iterations of the story, its material trappings, and its performance while analyzing its meanings through interpretations of supernatural play from Jeannie Banks Thomas, Lisa Gabbert, and Bill Ellis.

Part of 07-15 Sounding Board 3: Folklore Matters, Saturday, November 04, 8:30 am–10:00 am