Call for Chapters: Food, Feminisms, and Rhetorics edited collection, 15 January 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Melissa Goldthwaite and Jennifer Cognard-Black / St. Joseph's University and St. Mary's College of Maryland

Call for Chapters: "Food, Feminisms, and Rhetorics"

Contact: Melissa A. Goldthwaite, Saint Joseph's University, and/or Jennifer Cognard-Black,

Call for Chapters for an Edited Collection
"Food, Feminisms, and Rhetorics"
Edited by Melissa A. Goldthwaite and Jennifer Cognard-Black

Among readers as well as teachers and students, there is a strong interest in understanding the rhetorical and political implications of culinary culture. For the past three decades, numerous memoirs, novels, anthologies, TV shows, and films have been structured around the preparation and consumption of food. Some texts have been enormously popular—even jumping from text to screen and then back to text (in the form of tie-in cookbooks)—such as Like Water for Chocolate, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, and Julie & Julia. Part of the reason for this proliferation is a growing interest in how food symbolizes and creates identities, both individual and national, as well as a renewed commitment to sustainable practices of agriculture and an interest in local-seasonal foods. Moreover, in recent years, there has been an explosion of visual media attempting to entice self-proclaimed foodies, from shows such as Iron Chef and Cupcake Wars; films such as Big Night and Chocolat; and the success of chef celebs, including Jamie Oliver, Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse, and Pat and Gina Neely. In addition, more literary writers have turned to food as a rich source for their art. Maya Angelou published a cookbook-memoir, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table; a journal dedicated to showcasing, poetry, essays, and fiction related to food, Alimentum, debuted in 2006; the Best American series now publishes a volume each year of the finest American food writing; and even in a moment of a depressed literary marketplace, presses are still producing scores of literary cookbooks and food-writing anthologies.

Feminist scholars and activists have long been interested in gender issues related to food and food culture. Some take an activist approach. For example, more than twenty years ago, Carole J. Adams wrote The Sexual Politics of Meat, in which she linked the slaughter of animals to violence against women. Others—such as Mary Drake McFeely, Jessamyn Neuhaus, Laura Schenone, Laura Shapiro, and Rebecca Sharpless—and take an historical approach, studying gendered practices related to food and cooking at particular times in history. We value the considerations of globalization and alternative food movements offered by several contributors to Deborah Barndt's Women Working the NAFTA Food Chain: Women, Food & Globalization and the many approaches to food-related topics offered in several of Sherrie A. Inness's collections.

Although there have been important analyses that consider the gendering of visual and written texts about food, additional research and analyses are needed: from the hyper-masculinity of Iron Chef to the self-consciously feminized Julie & Julia, a more nuanced and careful rhetorical analysis is needed not only of gender but also of the class, race, ethnic, age-based, and sexual implications of these food texts and of food culture more generally.

We ask that contributors use the lens of feminist rhetorical theory and an interdisciplinary framework. As Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa E. Kirsh explain in Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies, "The interdisciplinary means by which feminist rhetorical studies occurs take advantage of contextual and textual knowledge, resonating with the ways in which similar work has been occurring in other areas in English studies and beyond, including studies focused on women, communication, race, class, ethnicity, culture, postcolonialism, globalism, digital media and other technologies, and more" (40).

This peer-reviewed anthology, preliminarily accepted for publication by Southern Illinois University Press for their Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms series, will focus on rhetorical analyses of texts and issues relating to gender and food. The editors seek essays that address the rhetoric of gender across a range of texts and practices, both popular and literary, such as (but not limited to):

—alternative food movements
—culinary histories
—celebrity chef TV shows
—food memoirs, poems, and fictions
—foodie films
—pro-ana and "fat positive" discourse
—culinary art and advertisements
—food-related social media sites

Essays might also rhetorically analyze gendered social practices that inform food and foodways, from Tupperware or Pampered Chef parties to breastfeeding in public.

Essay proposals (500-word maximum) are due via email to Melissa Goldthwaite ( and/or Jennifer Cognard-Black ( by January 15, 2014. Feel free to contact Melissa or Jennifer with any questions.