Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Eating Discourses: How Beliefs about Eating Shape the Subject, its Body, and its Subjectivity
by McManus, Danielle Bridget, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2016, 123; 10124486
Abstract (Summary)

Current scholarship in food studies generally, and literary food studies in particular, has overlooked important assumptions about the act of eating and its implications for subjectivity, embodiment, and agency. The field has taken up the idea of “eating” as a natural and universal physical process, immune to discourse. I argue that in so doing, the field has missed important opportunities to examine how our beliefs about what eating is and why are discursively informed. And, further, I argue that the discourses of eating play a role in regulating subjectivity, the material body, and its access to agency. Chapter 1 explores two well-known texts within literary food studies, The Edible Woman and Like Water for Chocolate, and is critical of aspects of each text that have been thus far neglected in the food studies critical conversation. By examining these overlooked pieces, I discuss how the eating discourses in both texts inform the characters’ subjectivities, their embodiment, and their agency within the novels. Chapter 2 examines two texts infrequently discussed in literary food studies, My Year of Meats and Xenogenesis, in order to illustrate the limits of the field’s scholarship so far and to explore how a discursive analysis of eating can provide new insight into how the subject, the body, and its agency can be conceptualized. Chapter 3 looks to contemporary cookery texts for clues about how we talk about eating outside a strictly academic purview and ways that a discursive analysis of the genre can demonstrate how eating shapes our everyday perceptions of subjectivity, embodiment, and agency.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Freeman, Elizabeth
Commitee: Frederickson, Kathleen, Tompkins, Kyla
School: University of California, Davis
Department: English
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, American literature, LGBTQ studies
Keywords: 20th century, Food studies, Like water for chocolate, Queer theory, The edible woman, Xenogenesis
Publication Number: 10124486
ISBN: 978-1-339-82594-6
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