Writing a measure of her life: the rhetoric of women's cookbooks
This dissertation argues that women have employed cookbooks as rhetorical vehicles in order to establish individual and communal identities, claim authority of a written genre, and respond to dominant notions of womanhood. Three categories of cookbooks are explored within the project including: unpublished manuscripts, community cookbooks, and commercially published cookbooks. Drawing on the work of feminist scholars, Jaqueline Jones Royster and Gesa Kirsch, I argue that cookbooks from each of these categories function in different rhetorical ways for their authors. The cookbooks analyzed here evidence that women use "everyday" or "ordinary" writing to record history and memory, preserve relationships, pass on knowledge, and effect social change at many levels. Although focused on cookbooks written by Alabama women from 1850-1930, the archival study opens possibilities for acknowledging and valuing the important rhetorical work of everyday, ordinary forms of writing.