Though casual readers may often assume cookbooks are primarily reference materials,cookbooks actually offer readers a type of autobiography; I examine cookbooks as literary autobiographical acts by analyzing three celebrity chefs' cookbooks and the recent film, Julie and Julia. Julie and Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, illustrates several key autobiographical ideas, specifically Barthes' ideas of readerly and writerly texts and the distinction between an author and a persona. The film acts as a visual representation of the way a reader engages with a text and makes it a writerly text while successfully distinguishing between an author and a persona/narrator. After a brief review of autobiography theory through Julie and Julia, the three selected authors' work further magnifies the ideas. The first celebrity chef, David Lebovitz, uses a highly narrative style and incorporates numerous autobiographical details into his books. The second, Ina Garten, utilizes different methods of creating a persona, including photography. The third chef, Dorie Greenspan, uses the same methods used by Lebovitz and Garten, but has been replicated extensively in online baking groups, making her texts ideal for understanding the role of the reader in an autobiography. The work of these three authors illustrates well how autobiographies function and how readers can reiterate their own autobiographies through the books and food they consume.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Barlow, Rebecca Quist, "Nourishing the Self: Cookbooks as Autobiography" (2012). Theses and Dissertations. 2994.
autobiography, cookbooks, food, Roland Barthes, David Lebovitz, Ina Garten, Dorie, Greenspan, food blogs, narrative, persona, reader