It's all about the dough: food, literature, and the American dream

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Date

2022

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science

Abstract

The intersection of the environment, literature, and the culinary history of the North American West is under-investigated and requires further study to determine the ways in which focusing on these intersections reveals more about American foodways. By examining three community cookbooks, three corporate cookbooks, three works of literary fiction, and the archival contents of America Eats, a subsidiary of the Federal Writers' Project, this paper investigates sociocultural interactions in the United States between 1930 and 1959, particularly in Montana. Research revealed the connection between rural and urban through the presence of advertisements and brand-name products in community cookbooks, while corporate cookbooks displayed the depth of culinary-related gendered ideology in twentieth century America. Further investigation highlighted the interconnections between distinct foodways, the environment, and Western literature during the time period in question. This paper concludes that Montana foodways between 1930 and 1959 exhibit the last remnants of regional uniqueness prior to the widespread culinary homogenization in postwar America. Additionally, this study revealed the importance of preserving culturally and geographically specific foodways to bridge gaps among communities both rural and urban. Ultimately, this study concludes that the food present in Montana between 1930 and 1959 in all its iterations--literary, physical, and in the space between perception and creation in the world of advertising--is representative of the vestiges of a unique regional foodway.

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