The rhetoric of food is more than just words about food, and food is more than just edible matter. Cookery: Food Rhetorics and Social Production explores how food mediates both rhetorical influence and material life through the overlapping concepts of invention and production. The classical canon of rhetorical invention entails the process of discovering one’s persuasive appeals, whereas the contemporary landscape of agricultural production touches virtually everyone on the planet. Together, rhetoric and food shape the boundaries of shared living.
The essays in this volume probe the many ways that food informs contemporary social life through its mediation of bodies—human and extra-human alike—in the forms of intoxication, addiction, estrangement, identification, repulsion, and eroticism. Our bodies, in turn, shape the boundaries of food through research, technology, cultural trends, and, of course, by talking about it.
Each chapter explores food’s persuasive nature through a unique prism that includes intoxication, dirt, “food porn,” strange foods, and political “invisibility.” Each case offers new insights about the relations between rhetorical influence and embodied practice through food. As a whole Cookery articulates new ways of viewing food’s powers of persuasion, as well as the inherent role of persuasion in agricultural production.
The purpose of Cookery, then, is to demonstrate the deep rhetoricity of our modern industrial food system through critical examinations of concepts, practices, and tendencies endemic to this system. Food has become an essential topic for discussions concerned with the larger social dynamics of production, distribution, access, reception, consumption, influence, and the fraught question of choice. These questions about food and rhetoric are equally questions about the assumptions, values, and practices of contemporary public life.
Donovan Conley and Justin Eckstein
1. Brewing Influence: The Mixology of Morals
Katie Dickman and Nathaniel A. Rivers
2. The Terroir and Topoi of the Lowcountry
Anna Marjorie Young and Justin Eckstein
3. Food Pornography
Casey R. Kelly
4. Rhetorically Strange Foods
5. More than a Membrane
“Cookery contributes to the fields of rhetoric a sophisticated mapping of how our consummatory pleasures are enmeshed in symbolic significance, including those moments where what is legible as food, desire, and satiation exceeds extant frames of meaning and feeling.”
—Isaac West, author of Transforming Citizenships: Transgender Articulations of the Law
“This collection affirms Plato’s critique of rhetoric by inventively adopting the motions of cooking as germane to rhetoric’s activity. To heat, to cool, to marinate, to brew …the essays herein invite readers to consider rhetorical practice and/as cookery to exceed language use and become understood as nothing less than our most pervasive practice: the constant effort to satisfy the singular tastes we collectively cultivate.”
—Casey Boyle, associate professor of rhetoric and writing at the University of Texas at Austin