Diners, Dudes & Diets

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Diners, Dudes & Diets: How Gender & Power Collide in Food Media & Culture (November 2020)

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The phrase “dude food” likely brings to mind a range of images: burgers stacked impossibly high with an assortment of toppings that were themselves once considered a meal; crazed sports fans demolishing plates of radioactively hot wings; barbecued or bacon-wrapped . . . anything. But there is much more to the phenomenon of dude food than what’s on the plate. Emily J. H. Contois’s provocative book begins with the dude himself—a man who retains a degree of masculine privilege but doesn’t meet traditional standards of economic and social success or manly self-control. In the Great Recession’s aftermath, dude masculinity collided with food producers and marketers desperate to find new customers. The result was a wave of new diet sodas and yogurts marketed with dude-friendly stereotypes, a transformation of food media, and weight loss programs just for guys.

In a work brimming with fresh insights about contemporary American food media and culture, Contois shows how the gendered world of food production and consumption has influenced the way we eat and how food itself is central to the contest over our identities. Understanding that process just might help all of us to find more joy and justice in our media lives.

Book Launch

Watch here the virtual book launch with Magic City Books, moderated by Anne Helen Petersen.

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Virtual Book Events

Past Events 

  • Friday, October 30, 2020, 2:30 pm CT // Brock University Department of History Speaker Series
  • Friday, November 13, 2020, 3:00 pm CT // The University of Tulsa, Lambda Delta 
  • Thursday, November 19, 2020, 7:00 pm CT // The University of Tulsa Community Lecture Series [Watch recording here]

To schedule interviews or events, contact:

Praise for Diners, Dudes & Diets

“Contois has demonstrated that there is much fertile ground for considering how, why, and where the trope of ‘the dude’ functions and the arguments remain engaging throughout the entirety of Diners, Dudes, and Diets. She makes a significant contribution to food studies, gender studies, and cultural studies by deftly weaving an analysis of gendered power dynamics with observations of race, class, sexuality, age, and disability at important consumer culture sites.”

–Kathleen LeBesco, coeditor of The Bloomsbury Handbook of Food and Popular Culture

“Contois’s focus on ‘dude masculinity’ is original and will make an important contribution to the fields of food studies and gender studies insofar as it complicates our understanding of the gendering of food–its production, distribution, and consumption–food media, and cultural narratives around the idealized male and female body and dieting.”

–Peter Naccarato, coeditor of The Bloomsbury Handbook of Food and Popular Culture

Diners, Dudes, and Diets is truly interdisciplinary in a way that few works actually are. I feel like I’m being guided by a master storyteller who knows how to convey a sense of discovery, originality, and surprise. The textual analysis of the dude in his many forms is so compelling as to stand alone with the best literary deconstruction. Not only is this book an accessible, up-to-date primer in cultural studies, consumer culture, gender studies, hegemonic process, body image, food studies, and many other fields, it obviously connects to the intense, intimate concerns of many students (regardless of major), and it’s short! A trifecta! It’s the perfect teaching text.”

–Warren Belasco, author of Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food 

“Emily Contois’s Diners, Dudes, and Diets is a brilliant and needed addition to the intersections of food studies and gender studies. Contois unpacks layers of cultural hegemony to get at the ways in which gender and consumption alter and affect each other in unexpected ways. She pays attention to how American masculinities are formed and (re)formed through the nuanced ways that race, class, and gender intersect and inform how men see themselves and each other. A must-read for scholars and classes in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, Food Studies, and for anyone who wants to learn about why and how men’s bodies and values related to food have emerged in distinctive ways at this moment in American culture and history.”

–Melissa Hackman, author of Desire Work: Ex-Gay and Pentecostal Masculinity in South Africa

“Contois deftly documents how the emergence of a new masculine identity—the “dude”—enabled food marketers, media, and culinary professionals to sell both diet food and a countercultural male lifestyle to consumers hungry for both. Astutely applying a historian’s lens to a sagacious selection of examples … Contois reveals how “dude culture” softens the rigidity of gendered food rules but does not fully eradicate them. Ultimately, this sophisticated yet accessible work proves that we need more expansive, more inclusive, and more representative relationships between the food media we consume and the gender identities we inhabit.”

–Julia Ehrhardt, Reach for Excellence Associate Professor of American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Oklahoma Honors College

“A fascinating work of cultural studies that makes evident the continued power and threat of explicitly gendered food production and consumption in the 21st century. Recommended broadly for students and scholars of fields related to gender, culture, and consumption.”

–Robin Chin Roemer, Library Journal 

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Diners, Dudes & Diets Coverage

Diners, Dudes & Diets | Table of Contents

Get a taste of what I’ve already published on these topics:

Wondering how to pronounce my last name?

No worries! It’s pronounced “con-twah,” from my husband’s French Canadian ancestors.

Headshot Photo: KC Hysmith