Susan Leonardi argues in her landmark 1989 essay “Recipes for Reading” that recipes are an “embedded discourse,” meaning that they communicate in a system of complex social relationships, rhetorical and narrative strategies, and historical times and places. Recipes – the stories they tell and the networks they represent – serve as an entry point into the discourses of history, memory, regional identity, race, gender, and class in which they are embedded.
My research agenda explores how writing about food is a way of telling about the South, forming and reforming what it means to be a Southerner.
Food is central to representations of Southern identity in popular culture; the stories that Southerners tell about where their food comes from says a lot about how Southerners define themselves and their region. Perhaps the most significant challenge facing all kinds of New Southern food writers is the difficulty of talking about the complicated Southern past in the celebratory tone of typical food writing. As Anthony Bourdain has pointed out, the “potential for awkwardness and offense is enormous” when talking about foods that might have been invented by slaves, supported by sharecropping, or otherwise connected to the “sins” of the Southern past. Much of my work examines the
- “Writing Culture: A Feminist Historiography of Recipe Origin Narratives.” Food, Feminisms, and Rhetorics. Melissa Goldthwaite. Southern Illinois University Press. June 2017.
- “Copying and Copyright: The Recipe Text as Offal.” Offal – Rejected and Reclaimed Foods: Proceedings of the 2016 Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, ed. Mark McWilliams. Prospect Books. June 2017.
- “History and Memory: Arguing for Authenticity in the Stories of Brunswick Stew.” Food and Foodways. Specal Issue on Food, Memory, and Narratives. (Spring 2016) 24.1-2: 48-66.
- “’Acting it Out Like a Play’: Flipping the Script of Kitchen Spaces in Faulkner’s Light in August.” Southern Quarterly. (Winter 2016). 53.2: 58-73.
- “‘Squirrel, If You’re So Inclined’: Recipes, Narrative, and the Rhetoric of Southern Identity.” Food, Culture, and Society. (December 2014). 17.4: 555-570.
- “Gathering around Hull-House Dining Tables,” Co-authored with Sarah Ruffing Roberts (TCU), forthcoming special issue of American Studies, October 2018.
- “’A New Confederacy’: The Economy of Southern Hospitality in William Faulkner’s Sanctuary.” Modernism and Food Studies. Edited by Keel Geheber, Jessica Martell, and Adam Fajardo. Forthcoming, University of Florida Press.