Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

The French Chef in the Cold War: Julia Child and the Mask of Contained Domesticity

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in English

First Advisor

Jaime Harker

Second Advisor

Kathryn McKee

Third Advisor

Deborah Barker

Abstract

Most scholarly studies and even general personal reflections about Julia Child portray her as a figure that changed the face of cooking, cookbooks, and cooking television for audiences of the late twentieth and twenty first centuries. While this is true, many of these studies and reflections do not acknowledge Child's ability to change mainstream ideas by conforming to some of them. While Child radicalized perceptions toward food and those who cook, she also represented a domestic woman and a wife. While Child's politics were indeed liberal, for the most part, her lifestyle was actually quite moderate. This project is an examination of how Julia Child straddled the lines between subversive and conforming, threatening and safe, and housewife and feminist, and in doing so, was able to create a new cooking methodology for Americans who, historically, have a disconnected relationship toward food in general. Using Child's reactions to Cold War mentalities, I demonstrate how Child was able to perform certain roles, specifically the "housewife," in order to penetrate the nuclear family bubble and implant new ideas about food, cooking, and femininity.

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