Kayla A. Bruce - "Embodied Rhetoric: Women’s Food Writing"
I think that the explosion in food memoir is saying and doing something significant in our current cultural and societal climate. I believe that the work that food memoirs are doing in the field of life writing is significant in three ways. The first is the way that writing about food can help the author, and the reader, process experiences and memories by giving them a tangible object on which to focus thoughts and emotions. The second is that they legitimize these everyday personal and communal experiences, and reveal that the truths of those situations are worth being communicated to a larger audience. The third is that they challenge different cultural scripts than other texts such as: pleasurable experiences are not valuable experiences to study, or experiences of food do not significantly impact our constructions of self and the world. They way that food memoirs help “consumers” process, legitimize, and challenge their own experiences and identities is significant because few texts allow this kind of exploration in such a seemingly familiar space that readers can relate to. I want to examine the significance of food memoirs in general by looking at two specific texts: Kate Christensen’s Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites and Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table. These two texts are significant to the food memoir explosion through their autobiographical food experiences that show the construction, as well as construct, their individual and communal identities.
I am a second year English Master’s student with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition. My Master’s work has helped me to define my scholarly interests in two areas of analysis: ethnographic observations of student activity and experiential activity and narrative in nonfiction texts. I am interested in embodied women’s rhetoric in nonfiction food texts. My work is driven by identifying activity and food experiences within food memoirs, and analyzing identity formation and constructions of self as represented through the texts. I am asking questions like: what are the current trends in field of life writing and are those trends applicable to food writing? The intersection between print text and electronic text has attracted my attention, and has allowed me to ask questions about what these texts do rhetorically for the identity and “appetites” of these authors and readers.
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