Born in Australia, I grew up in the Big Sky Country of Montana. I spent a bit over a decade training in classical ballet before turning my attention to the study of food, health, and culture.

Photo credit: Katherine Hysmith

Photo credit: Katherine Hysmith

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. 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.

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, where I studied with Rachel Black and Carole Counihan. In my masters 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 their constructions of masculinity in an age of obesity.

I am currently a PhD candidate in American Studies at Brown University, where I explore the connections between food studies, nutrition, and public health in the everyday American experience and popular culture. My dissertation is titled, “The Dudification of Diet: Food Masculinities in Twenty-First-Century America,” and examines how media representations of food, cooking, and dieting negotiate and construct normative masculinities in our current historical moment.

My work has been published in CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures, Fat Studies, the Graduate Journal of Food Studies, Inside Higher Ed, and The Inquisitive Eater, among others. I am also a contributor at Zester Daily, which was a 2016 IACP Award finalist in the Culinary Website category.

I currently live in Providence with my husband (who’s a rock star physical therapist and athlete) and our dog, Raven.


As I continue my interdisciplinary studies of food, nutrition, and public health, this blog is a place for some of my finished work, as well as lots of projects that are in process or ideas that are just rumbling around in my mind. Please feel free to comment and engage.

19 thoughts on “About

  1. DebraB says:

    Your blog looks fascinating. I, too, am an academic (in English). I also have a non-professional interest in the relationship between food and identity. I look forward to reading your blog!


    • emilycontois says:

      Thanks so much, Debra! I look forward to living vicariously through your travels – and finding some great new books to read along the way.


  2. Kristen says:

    Hi Emily, I am happy to discover our overlapping interests in nutrition and food! I just discovered your blog while exploring options for related study. Thank you for sharing some of your inspirations in writing!


  3. Corrine says:

    I love your blog ! You are such an inspiration to me, as an aspiring food intellectual. I am really curious on how you went about choosing the topic of your dissertation and the whole process in general of writing it for you.


    • emilycontois says:

      Thanks so much, Corrine! For me, I’ve been studying dieting as an expression of culture since my undergrad honors thesis, so it was a topic that has held my interest for more than a decade now – a very important criteria for a dissertation project! It’s something that one works on for so many years, so it needs to be something that you’re very truly interested in and care a lot about. As for writing it, I’m in the midst of that madness! Most every article I’ve published is part of my thinking on the issue, so even if it doesn’t end up in the dissertation (or, one day, in the book) it’s still part of the process. Good advice I once received was to use every seminar paper assignment as an opportunity to explore a new aspect, or build on something you’ve done previously, but to keep it all marching in the direction of your main project. I hope that helps! If you’d like to chat more, you’re more than welcome to contact me.


  4. stepsinthyme says:

    I love it!! So happy to stumble across this blog.
    I’m always hoping to learn more on the informative side of nutrition. And marrying that with great flavours.
    Very keen to learn more of what you practice. I will be following closely.
    Thank you!


  5. chomplab says:

    I was truly impressed by your blog’s design and thoroughness! Your articles on Zester are very informative and I really appreciate your work. As a beginner blogger, there is definitely a lot for me to learn!


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