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WGSS 120: Women, Food and Culture: Cookbook Analysis


Write a 5 page paper in which you analyze your cookbook as a work of literature, focusing on the ways the author conveys cultural ideas around food preparation at that time and place.

These questions, as appropriate for your book, will help you find evidence for your analysis:

-why did the author write this book? Is there a discrepancy between what she claims in the introduction or preface and what the book seems to do?

-how did she imagine her audience?

-are there any physical alterations to the book that indicate anything about how the book was actually used?

-does the book have an autobiographical component?

-if there are pictures in the book, what do they add to the book’s message?

-does the cookbook include any health advice?

-what values does the author convey?

-do you see any allusions to discussions of nutrition and efficiency in the domestic science or home economics movements as discussed in lecture?

-are there any discussion of food safety and the role of the cook?

-does food take on any  metaphorical qualities?

-does the author convey any views about femininity or women’s roles?

-if the book is talking about a cuisine associated with an ethnic group, what does it convey about the value and strategies for assimilation or maintaining authenticity?

-is there any aspect of the book that you have trouble understanding across the distance of time and place?

-what questions does the book leave you with?

Source: iStockPhoto

Finding Cookbooks

Subject headings that might be useful for finding cookbooks in the URSUS or MaineCat catalogs include:


Cooking African

Cooking American

Cooking American Maine

Cooking American New England Style

Cooking American Southern Style

Cooking Asian

Cooking Chinese

Cooking Creole

Cooking Cuban

Cooking French

Cooking German

Cooking Greek

Cooking Irish

Cooking Italian

Cooking Korean

Cooking Latin American

Cooking Medieval

Cooking Mediterranean

Cooking Mexican

Cooking Middle Eastern

Cooking Roman

Cooking Russian

Cooking Vietnamese

Holiday cooking

Indian Cooking

Jewish Cooking

If the type of cooking you are researching isn't included above, try a subject search for Cooking ______ (the name of the country or type of cooking) or _______ Cooking and chances are you'll find something.

Find Cookbooks in ORBIS

Cookbooks Online