Complete Story

Branch, Erin L.

Summer 2015, 45:2, pages 164-184

“Taste Analytically”: Julia Child’s Rhetoric of Cultivation

Abstract: Rhetoricians have paid increasing attention to the influence of materiality and context on rhetorical action. However, such attention has yet to infiltrate discussions of constitutive rhetoric. This essay examines Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a case study for developing audience cultivation as a metaphor for analyzing audience development. This metaphor allows scholars to better account for the historical and material contexts that shape rhetorical efforts. Through analyses of Child’s and other contemporary cookbooks, as well as rigorous attention to the political, economic, social, and cultural forces at play in midcentury American life, I argue that Child’s success is not solely the product of her rhetorical prowess or charisma, but also the product of a constellation of extra-discursive elements that both enabled and constrained her rhetorical efforts.

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