My research explores the connections between food, the body, health, and identities in contemporary U.S. media and popular culture. I’m Assistant Professor of Media Studies at The University of Tulsa, and my current book project is Diners, Dudes and Diets: Gender and Power in U.S. Food Culture and Media with UNC Press. I am also co-editing Food and Instagram: Identity, Influence & Resistance with my colleague, Zenia Kish.
Trained as an interdisciplinary researcher and teacher, I work at the intersection of media studies, food studies, gender studies, and American studies. I completed my PhD in American Studies at Brown University and hold three master’s degrees: an MA in American Studies from Brown, an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and an MPH focused in Public Health Nutrition from UC Berkeley.
I was born in Australia and grew up in the Big Sky Country of Montana. Spending a bit over a decade training in classical ballet, I next turned my attention to the study of food, health, and culture.
At the University of Oklahoma, I majored in Letters and minored in Medical Humanities, while completing the pre-requisites for nutrition science. Advised by Julia Ehrhardt, I wrote my honors thesis on the language of the dieting industry, parts of which I published in “Guilt-Free and Sinfully Delicious: A Contemporary Theology of Weight Loss Dieting” in Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society in 2015.
I went on to study public health nutrition at UC Berkeley, where I also taught undergraduate nutrition courses, finding my true passion in teaching. I next tried my hand at employee wellness, helping to launch Healthy Workforce at Kaiser Permanente. (I’ve written more about my professional experience in public health nutrition here, and now work to incorporate translational and transdisciplinary approaches into my scholarship and teaching.)
Seeking a return to my interdisciplinary roots, I then studied Gastronomy at Boston University in the program co-founded by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin, taking courses with Rachel Black, Carole Counihan, and Ken Albala. In my master’s thesis, advised by Warren Belasco, I analyzed the marketing of the three leading diet programs in the United States (Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, and Jenny Craig) to men in the twenty-first century, exploring how they each construct masculinities through food and the body. I’ve published on masculinity and weight loss in, “‘Lose Like a Man:’ Gender and the Constraints of Self-Making in Weight Watchers Online” in Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies in 2017, and in “Real Men & Real Food: The Cultural Politics of Male Weight Loss” on Nursing Clio.
My work has also been published in Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Feminist Media Studies, CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures, and the Yearbook of Women’s History, among others. I currently write for Nursing Clio and have also written for Inside Higher Ed, the Providence Journal food section, The Inquisitive Eater, and Zester Daily, which was a 2016 IACP Award finalist in the Culinary Website category.
About This Blog
Since July 2012, this blog has been a place for some of my finished work (like this essay on Montana food culture), as well as lots of projects that are in process or ideas that are just rumbling around in my mind, like why Budweiser’s summer 2016 America rebrand matters or what Star Wars has to do with Edward Hopper’s food paintings.
It’s also become a place to share academic learnings and advice, such as how to write a winning statement of purpose, get the most out of academic conferences, get started on Twitter, or publish in food studies journals.
I also use the blog to reflect upon and share more broadly my own learnings from the conferences and events that I attend, like these write ups from the 2018 Association for the Study of Food and Society Conference, the 2017 Reading Historic Cookbooks seminar taught by Barbara Wheaton at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, and Roger Williams University’s panel on the role of Rhode Island colleges and universities in issues of food waste, recovery, and insecurity.
No matter what you’re here to read, please feel free to comment and engage—and know you’re most welcome to contact me if you’d like to discuss anything further.
Top Image Credit: Emily Contois, 2016