Identifier

etd-0701102-160130

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

This study combines philosophical, historical, and cultural modes of inquiry in order to explore what has occurred when selected authors have attempted to "write the body." Augmented by archival and primary cultural research, the dissertation is grounded in the experiential, "everyday" qualities of women's lives. Samples of women's cultural materials such as beauty, cookery, and household management texts, and popular women's magazines serve as informative backdrops for an investigation of middle- and working-class British and Anglo-Irish women's culture during the twentieth century. This study investigates some of the ways in which women have thought about food in relation to more global cultural concerns such as class and gender. As tropes within female texts, food and eating are bestowed with the properties of larger social concerns. By foregrounding consumption, authors can address difficult issues, such as sexuality and social class, obliquely. In order to make sense out of a rapidly shifting modernity, the women writers whose work I examine have used one of the most common, daily occurrences-eating-in order to grapple with changes in society and in social codes and roles for women. A close examination of some of the ways in which this has occurred can help to illuminate the connections of everyday cultures, so long relegated to women, to the larger structure of a modern world and to its impact upon female agency and social empowerment. By creating pairs of female characters who are oppositional with regard to food consumption, the authors examined all implicate the division of mind from body central to Western philosophies. The two are necessary complements, however, and my work does not seek to give primacy to either the flesh or the intellect, but instead examines ways in which the two work together, as well as the ways that the coming together of the physical and the psychical are represented by authors concerned not with the and mind/body binary, but with problematizing the very division that has underscored cultural development.

Date

2002

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michelle Masse

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