How do cookbooks speak? What stories do they tell—and whose? What do cookbooks reveal about power and how it operates? How do cookbooks communicate and construct gender? These are some of the questions my students and I have pondered lately in our course “Food and Gender in U.S. Popular Culture” at Brown University. For our first assignment, students analyzed how cookbooks prescribe and transgress conventional gender roles. A uniquely interdisciplinary field, food studies scholarship often employs various methods, but the close reading of cookbooks is one method that approaches universality. I’m working with a thoughtful and engaged group of 20 mostly first- and second-year students. While most had read and used cookbooks for cooking, few had previously considered them as elements of popular culture, as valuable historical evidence, as prescriptive literature that shape notions of gender, or as sources in which the so-often-silenced voices of women and people of color can be heard. In an effort to fully scaffold and support our work with cookbooks, we first did some reading. While there are many incredible texts I could have assigned, we read from: Jessamyn Neuhaus. …
In addition to being a public scholar, I endeavor to reflect publicly and often on teaching, aiming to share what I learn and to learn from others. Each semester, I try to experiment with a new assignment or project and share the results: Last Day of Class Top 10 Listicle, for Food Media Food Media Syllabus Unessays Infographics Teaching “Persuasive Influences in America” Student-Faculty Interviews Defining American Food Class Blog (Class 1 and Class 2) Food and Gender in U.S. Popular Culture e-Journal Designing Dietary Guidelines Teaching Writing through Cookbooks
Drawing from hundreds of cookbooks from 1390s-1920s, the Reading Historic Cookbooks seminar taught participants to listen to the voices in these texts.
Analyzing pop culture like dude food and the dadbod, Emily Contois’ Diners, Dudes & Diets tells an insightful and contemporary story about food, health, media, and the contest for our identities.
Through historic cookbooks, Instagram, and 30+ virtual guests, “Food Media” critically considers our global food system through media.
Jennifer Jensen Wallach and Michael Wise discuss the new fellowship, food studies at UNT, and what it’s like to live, work, and eat in Denton.
I blog as an academic for a number of reasons, but this year I had some new reflecting to do.
Consider these writing productivity tips from food historian Ken Albala, author or editor of 25 books to date.
The blog is turning five! Here’s five more reasons why I blog, and why other academics should too.
I wondered how students exposed to critical nutrition studies might view food advice differently and reimagine dietary guidelines. This is what happened.
My book Diners, Dudes & Diets: How Gender & Power Collide in Food Media & Culture will be published in fall 2020 by the University of North Carolina Press. Analyzing pop culture like dude food and the dadbod, Diners, Dudes & Diets tells an insightful and contemporary story about food, health, media, and the contest for our identities. During and after the Recession, gender norms shifted in American culture, resulting in a moment of gender crisis that opened the door for industry to target men in new ways. I reveal how the food, media, and advertising industries used the concept of “the dude” to sell feminized products to men. Brands deployed the dude to sell everything from men’s cookbooks and Guy Fieri to diet sodas, yogurts, and weight loss programs. I demonstrate how twenty-first-century gender crisis played out through food—and how understanding that process might help all of us to find more joy and justice in our media lives.
I’m celebrating National Cookbook Month with some of my past writing on cookbooks as texts, technical guides, objects, ephemera, historical evidence, collector’s items, keepsakes, family heirlooms, art, and symbols.
My interdisciplinary research explores 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 book Diners, Dudes & Diets: How Gender & Power Collide in Food Media & Culture will be published in 2020 with UNC Press. I am also co-editing Food & Instagram: Identity, Influence & Resistance.
I’m thrilled to share my students’ final project, an e-journal that culminates our course, “Food and Gender in U.S. Popular Culture,” at Brown University. In this seminar-style course, twenty students (mostly in their first and second years of study) completed four main writing assignments — a cookbook analysis (which I blogged about here), a mini media exhibit, an interview profile, and a restaurant review — all of which engaged the themes of food and gender. For the final project, students worked to revise one of these assignments for inclusion in the class e-journal. We invite you to start with the About page to learn more about the class and our writing. As you will read, these writing assignments expect (and deliver!) clear and sophisticated argument, as well as what we called “compulsively readable” prose. Course readings included not only academic food studies texts, but also a full serving of food writing, providing a taste of different styles and formats. Throughout the semester, we aimed to craft not only compelling thesis statements, but also at least one “aspirational sentence” …
Here is a round up of my public writing on sites dedicated to food, feminist media, medicine, and academia: Nursing Clio “The Gender Politics of the ‘Sexy Chef’ in Romance Literature.” December 19, 2019. “Butter and the History of U.S. Dietary Guides Since 1894.” October 22, 2019. “Desire Work, Gender, and Sexuality in South African Ex-Gay Ministries: A Conversation with Melissa Hackman.” May 30, 2019. “At the Crossroads of Comfort TV and Comfort Food.” March 5, 2019. “Photos with Santa Paws: Ruminations on Pets, Precarity, Consumption, and Family.” December 18, 2018. “How the ‘Advisory State’ Shapes American Bodies and Politics: A Conversation with Rachel Louise Moran.” December 13, 2018. “How to Start a Feminist Restaurant: A Chat with Alexandra Ketchum.” September 4, 2018. “Diet Books as Utopian Manifestos: A Conversation with Adrienne Rose Bitar.” July 31, 2018. “I Was Trolled – Here’s Why I’m Turning It into a Teaching Opportunity.” July 17, 2018. “Canned Food History: An Interview with Anna Zeide.” March 20, 2018. “Community Food Justice: An Interview with Garrett Broad.” March 6, 2018. “Not a Day …