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A Course on Women and Food

The following messages offer suggested resources for a course on
"Women and Food."  This discussion took place on WMST-L in December
2003.  For additional WMST-L files available on the Web, see the
WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 11:26:14 -0800
From: Barbara Watson <mbwatson AT MAIL.SDSU.EDU>
Subject: Women and Food
I would like to hear from people who have taught or are planning to teach a
course on "Women and Food". Considering the importance of food in general
and women's close relationships (both positive and negative) to food, it
seems we do not engage this issue sufficiently in our teaching and writing.
Thank you!

Maria-Barbara Watson-Franke, Ph.D.
Department of Women's Studies
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182
mbwatson  AT  mail.sdsu.edu
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 15:10:30 -0500
From: Christine Smith <casmith AT ANTIOCH-COLLEGE.EDU>
Subject: Re: Women and Food
A  sociologist colleague and I will be team teaching a course entitled
"Food, Clothing, and Shelter."  I am a social psychologist, and both of
us have women's studies backgrounds.   At my end, I envision discussing
cultural preferences, sensation and perception, eating disorders,
food as pleasure/nurturance, food as moral (I was sooo bad to eat that!).
I would love to hear what others have included as well.

Christine Smith
Antioch College
casmith  AT  antioch-college.edu
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 15:21:16 -0500
From: silver_ak AT MERCER.EDU
Subject: Re: Women and Food
I have taught a course on Women and the Body that discusses issues of
food and food prep.  Since it's an English course, I teach the novel
Like Water for Chocolate, which deals a lot with cooking and eating,
and Breath, Eyes, Memory, which is more concerned with not eating.  I
have also had students discuss cook books.

Anya Silver

Dr. Anya Krugovoy Silver
Assistant Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Studies
Mercer University
1400 Coleman Ave.       "Either you know the reason you're alive
Macon, GA 31207-0001     or nothing makes any difference."
(912) 752-5641                           --Anton Chekhov
silver_ak  AT  mercer.edu
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 15:42:56 -0500
From: "Tenzer, Livia" <LTenzer AT GC.CUNY.EDU>
Subject: Re: Women and Food
People who teach courses on food have found our book "The Milk of Almonds:
Italian American Women Writers on Food and Culture" to be an excellent
teaching resource. The collection, edited by Louise DeSalvo and Edvige
Giunta, includes prose and poetry on themes ranging from motherhood and
food, religion and food, the immigrant experience and food, and various
aspects of gendered culture and food.

--Livia Tenzer

Livia Tenzer
Editorial & Acquisitions Manager
The Feminist Press at CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016
email: ltenzer  AT  gc.cuny.edu
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 15:01:36 -0600
From: joann-castagna AT UIOWA.EDU
Subject: Re: Women and Food
There are some interesting connections between technology and food
(Ruth Schwartz Cowan's __More Work for Mother__ comes to mind), and
food preparation and women's roles. Your students might want to
explore the ways that utopian and other communities in which people
live in groups [religious communities perhaps] have organized food
preparation, and also look at some recent books on restaurants/chefs
(I think one is called __If you can stand the heat__) that explore why
women are primary food preparers in the home, but not in restaurants.
Looking at women as food preparers is also a way to consider the role
of race and ethnicity, by looking at say, the experiences of Irish
women and African-American women as cooks for the domininant class
throughout the nineteenth and early 20th centuries.

JoAnn Castagna
joann-castagna  AT  uiowa.edu
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 14:18:36 -0700
From: "Grotzky, Marilyn" <Marilyn.Grotzky AT CUDENVER.EDU>
Subject: Re: Women and Food
May I recommend "Perfection Salad," which is the story of the rise of
Home Economics/Domestic Science -- about 1830-1930, available in
paper.  It talks about food, the literary influence of the angel in
the house, the growth of the science of cooking and cooking schools,
Home Ec as a field for women in college.  It's great fun to read.  PS
is in paperback through Amazon.com and www.Jessicasbiscuit.com.
There's another book about 19th century cook book writers called
something like "Eat My Words."  It's also be available through both
sources in paperback.

Marilyn Grotzky
Auraria Library
Denver, CO 80214
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 15:20:33 -0800
From: Denise Copelton <dcopelton AT YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Re: Women and Food
Any discussion of women and food would be incomplete
without some reference to Marjorie DeVault's work.
Her book, Feeding the Family, is excellent.

For the issue of food and morality you might also take
a look at the work of Deborah Lupton, an
Australian sociologist.  Her book, Food, the Body, and
the Self, is very good at detailing the ways in which
food takes on moral meaning.  She does include some
discussion of gender, here, but gender is not her main
concern.  Another interesting way to approach this is
to look at the way in which food takes on heightened
moral meanings in pregnancy.  I am working on a paper
on this right now, but other work by Anne Murcott and
also Browner and Press could be useful here.  Specific
citations are included below.

My own work has looked at how food choices affect
women's sense of self, or more accurately, the ways in
which women use food to fashion their subjectivity
(I'm a sociologist).  I've found Lupton's work
mentioned above to be very useful as well as Pierre
Bourdieu's work (especially Distinction), but there is
a lot of work in anthropology that might be helpful as
well.  Check out Carole Counihan's work (an
anthropologist).  I know she's got a book out on
gender and food and several articles as well.

-Denise Copelton

Sociology -
Bourdieu, P. (1983). Distinction: A social critique of
the judgment of taste.  London: Routledge and Kegan

Coveney, J.  (2000).  Food, morals and meaning.  New
York: Routledge.

DeVault, M.  (1991). Feeding the family.  Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.

Germov, J., & Williams, L. (1999). A sociology of food
and nutrition.  New York: Oxford.

Homans, H. (1983). A question of balance: Asian and
British womenÆs perceptions of food during pregnancy.
In A. Murcott (Ed.), The sociology of food and eating
(pp. 73-83). Aldershot, UK: Gower.

Lupton, D.  (1996).  Food, the body and the self.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

MacIntyre, S. (1983). The management of food in
pregnancy. In A. Murcott (Ed.), The sociology of food
and eating (pp. 57-72). Aldershot, UK: Gower.

Mennell, S. (1996). All manners of food.  Chicago:
University if Illinois Press.

Mennell, S., Murcott, A., & van Otterloo, A.H.
(1992).  The sociology of food: Eating, diet and
culture.  Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Murcott, A. (1982). Menus, meals and platefuls:
Observations on advice about diet in pregnancy. The
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy,
2(4), 1-11.

Murcott, A. (1988). On the altered appetites of
pregnancy: Conceptions of food, body and person.
Sociological Review, 36(4), 733-764.

Murphy, E. (1999). æBreast is bestÆ: Infant feeding
decisions and maternal deviance. Sociology of Health
and Illness, 21(2) 187-208.

Anthropology -
Brown, L.K., & Mussell, K. (1995).  Foodways in the
United States: the performance of group identity.
Memphis: University of Tennessee Press.

Douglas, M. (1972). Deciphering a meal. Daedalus,
101(1), 61-81.

Douglas, M., & Nicod, M. (1974). Taking the biscuit:
The structure of British meals.  New Society, 30(637),

Markens, S., Browner, C. H., & Press, N. (1997).
Feeding the fetus: On interrogating the notion of
maternal-fetal conflict.  Feminist Studies, 23(2),

Brumberg, J.J. (1988). Fasting girls: The emergence of
anorexia nervosa as a modern disease.  Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press.
Denise A. Copelton, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology
Franklin & Marshall College
PO Box 3003
Lancaster, PA 17604-3003

Office phone: (717) 358-4556
dcopelton  AT  yahoo.com
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 10:35:44 -0500
From: Sherrie Inness <inness AT MUOHIO.EDU>
Subject: women and food
Barbara and other members of this list,

You might be interested in some of my books that address women,
food culture, and popular culture.

Thank  you,

Sherrie A. Inness
Professor of English
Miami University

2001   Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture.  Iowa
City: University of Iowa Press.

2001   Kitchen Culture in America: Popular Representations of Food,
Gender, and Race.  Ed. Sherrie A. Inness.  Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Press.

2001   Pilaf, Pozole, and Pad Thai: American Women and Ethnic Food.
Ed. Sherrie A. Inness.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

2001   Cooking Lessons: The Politics of Gender and Food.  Ed.
Sherrie A. Inness.  Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 10:53:31 -0500
From: Tess Pierce <tess AT ETRESOFT.COM>
Subject: Re: women and food
I really like Probyn, Elspeth (2000) CarnalAppetites.
FoodSexIdentities. NY: Routledge.

The chapter on disgust and shame is especially telling. I use it to
discuss eating disorders in my Communication and Gender course.

Tess Pierce
tess  AT  etresoft.com
the kick ass liberal curmudgeon
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 11:57:26 -0500
From: Elizabeth Edmonds <edmondse AT GWU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Women and Food
I have not taught a class on food, but I am writing about food. I concur
with the list below and also recommend Elspeth Probyn's Carnal
Appetites: FoodSexIdentities.  Probyn uses food as a way to reconceive
how we think about identity and subjectivity and shows ways that food
both illuminates and undermines traditional conceptions of identity as
intersections of difference.  She also conceives of food outside of
traditional anthropological or sociological frameworks.  I find her
writing style compelling, engaging, and accessible and think it would be
a useful book to introduce in the classroom.

Probyn, Elspeth.  2000.  Carnal Appetites: FoodSexIdentities.  New York:

Elizabeth Edmonds
George Washington University
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 13:28:25 -0500
From: Adrienne McCormick <McCormic AT FREDONIA.EDU>
Subject: women and food
I haven't taught a course either, but in Intro to Women's Studies, I
discuss food when I do units on advertising and consumer culture.20

Two excellent articles in Grewal and Kaplan's reader, _Intro to Women's
Studies_ (McGraw Hill 2002) are by Nancy Worcester.

"Nourishing Ourselves" and "The Obesity of the Food Industry" both
examine women's relations to food.  They can be found in _Women's
Health: Readings on Social, Economic, and Political Issues_ 2nd ed. 
Nancy Worcester and Mariamne H. Whatley, eds.  Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt
Publishing Company, 1996.

There's also Susan Bordo's _Unbearable Weight_ (U of California P, 1993)
that addresses food and advertising.

And Nomy Lamm is fun from a "third wave" perspective on fat, dieting,
and body image in _Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation_
(Seal Press).

When I teach about food, I like to discuss the illusion of choice in a
consumer society, where women in particular are targeted (in gendered
and classed discourses) as "choosy," when in fact there is little
"choice" or "diversity" in many mainstream grocery stores.  "Choice" is
always a great term to problematize in women's studies.

Adrienne McCormick
SUNY Fredonia
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 13:39:09 -0500
From: J Biddle <jbiddle2 AT cox.net>
Subject: Re: women and food

When I teach Sociology of the Family, I usually talk about holidays and
about special holiday foods that families serve and recipes that are
sometimes passed down from generation to generation.

We also talk about "food" as a part of a family's specific ethnic,
social, and cultural heritage, and about how certain food practices that
occur in families, such as having a tea kettle on the stove at all
times, or making tea a particular way, may reflect the family's
connections to the cultural/social lineage within a family. Such
practices may occur without understanding "why" they happen except that
"it was always so", or "my mother/grandmother always" did it that way,
or had that item in her kitchen. We discuss the practical reasons "why"
such practices may have evolved, and "why" they remain in practice, and
how some of the things that "we" do in contemporary times have evolved
from practices of our mothers, grandmothers, greatgrandmothers.

It isn't at all uncommon for a student to have an "aha!" moment when
considering things from this perspective.


Joan I. Biddle Ph.D.
LTC, USAR (ret)
jbiddle2  AT  cox.net
joan.biddle  AT  us.army.mil
Co-President, Sociological Practice Association
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 10:58:13 -0800
From: Alena Ruggerio <RuggeriA AT SOU.EDU>
Subject: Re: women and food
>> And Nomy Lamm is fun from a "third wave" perspective on fat, dieting,
and body image in _Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation_
(Seal Press).

If you're going to go in the direction of the relationship between fat,
food, and feminism, especially with a tone entertaining to undergrads,
you might also want to look at Marilyn Wann's book _Fat!So?_ or the
accompanying website: http://www.fatso.com/


Alena Amato Ruggerio
Department of Communication
Southern Oregon University
Alena.Ruggerio  AT  sou.edu
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 14:01:48 -0500
From: Cinci Inst of Graduate Home Edu <cighe AT EARTHLINK.NET>
Subject: Re: women and food
on 12/2/03 10:53 AM, Tess Pierce at tess  AT  ETRESOFT.COM wrote:

> The chapter on disgust and shame is especially telling. I use it to
> discuss eating disorders in my Communication and Gender course.

If you'd like to give students a look at a wholesome relationship between
women and food, try _Raw Energy_ by Leslie & Susannah Kenton

Although "disgust and shame" are players in bad relationships, surely in
this comparison, with its venturing into women's openness to observational
roots of science, there's insight into both the aversion and the remedy.
Conceivably the problem is cooking itself versus what life really is.

J.H. Raichyk, PhD
cighe  AT  earthlink.net
Dectiri Publishing Co-op
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 14:04:39 -0800
From: Betty Glass <glass AT UNR.EDU>
Subject: Re: Women and Food
You both may want to look into the availability of scholarly articles
analyzing messages about food in advertising.

The Pilsbury slogan, "Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven
..."  has been in use in television commercials for decades, for

(And the USA has apparently been 'loved' into a crisis of obesity
 amid those marketing messages.)


Betty J. Glass
Resource Analysis & Support Librarian
Getchell Library/322
University of Nevada, Reno
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89557-0044

glass  AT  unr.edu
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 16:26:29 -0800
From: Betty Glass <glass AT UNR.EDU>
Subject: Women and Food - availability of produce choices in grocery stores
In discussing this thread, someone recently posted a message concerning the
perception of choice of items in grocery stores.

I had occasion to look at "The Harper's Index Book," published in
1987, which gathered together various statistics that have been
published in "Harper's" magazine through the years.

In the "Fruits and Vegetables" category, page 35, it gives this information:

"Items in the average grocery store's produce section in 1976: 50
 Today:  200"

(This edition has a publication date of 1987.)

 So, this would seem to indicate a broader selection of produce in USA
grocery stores by
the mid-eighties, compared to the mid-seventies, anyway.


Betty J. Glass
Resource Analysis & Support Librarian
Getchell Library/322
University of Nevada, Reno
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89557-0044

glass  AT  unr.edu
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 10:07:39 -0500
From: Travis Nygard <tnygard AT GAC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Women and Food - ecofeminism
You might also look at works on ecofeminism, as they usually include
theorizing on both vegetarianism and agriculture.  I am thinking
specifically about authors such as Karen Warren, Carol Adams, and Deane
Curtin.  Some of the books that you might look at include:

Adams, Carol J. Ecofeminism and the Sacred. New York: Continuum, 1993.
---. The Pornography of Meat. New York: Continuum, 2003.
---. The Sexual Politics of Meat : A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical
Theory: Polity, 1990.
Curtin, Deane W., and Lisa M. Heldke. Cooking, Eating, Thinking :
Transformative Philosophies of Food. Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1992.
Warren, Karen, and Nisvan Erkal. Ecofeminism : Women, Culture, Nature.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.
Warren, Karen, and Barbara Wells-Howe. Ecological Feminism,
Environmental Philosophies Series. London ; New York: Routledge, 1994.

I hope this helps!

Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2003 07:31:19 -0500
From: Cinci Inst of Graduate Home Edu <cighe AT EARTHLINK.NET>
Subject: Re: Women and Food - ecofeminism
Although not theory oriented (sometimes students prefer exemplars) the
ecofeminism/food connection would lead to women who write on wildfood, and
also rawfood...  both of which are currently enjoying a renaissance with

Their relationship is totally different from their cooking sisters and
frequently carries over into herbalism/healthcare connections which also
tend to be women-centric moreso than other disciplines...

These alternatives could appeal to students seeking solutions or different
ways of approaching difficulties than identifying negativities

J.H. Raichyk, PhD
cighe  AT  earthlink.net
Dectiri Publishing

on 12/4/03 10:07 AM, Travis Nygard at tnygard  AT  GAC.EDU wrote:

> You might also look at works on ecofeminism, as they usually include
> theorizing on both vegetarianism and agriculture. <snip>
> I hope this helps!
> Travis

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