Kate Brown - "Temper, Temper: Diet Talk as Legitimacy in Women's Food Memoir"
In her memoir Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites, Kate Christensen writes passionately about favorite foods, memorable meals, and their connection to her often troubled childhood. She describes in detail the tastes and sensations that tie food and eating to these moments. Despite the book's focus on the role of food and eating in her life, Christensen includes explanations of how dieting corrected moments when her love of food became too intense. Caloric restriction acts as a rhetorical metaphor that authorizes Christensen to love food because the reader knows she didn't go far enough to get fat. This demonstration of self-control, in turn, increases her rhetorical agency as a rational, disciplined subject. In this presentation, I will use _Blue Plate Special_ to show how food memoirists use dieting for weight loss as an authorizing move to adhere to a cultural script that only allows certain bodies to write about enjoying food.
Kate Browne is a second year English Studies PhD student specializing in American women's life writing. Specifically, she is interested in how women represent their body size in various spaces--from 19th century freak shows to 21st century Facebook statuses and beyond. Her work is heavily influenced by theories in disability studies, fat studies, and cyberfeminist rhetorics.
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