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Brigham Young University

1. Barlow, Rebecca Quist. Nourishing the Self: Cookbooks as Autobiography.

Degree: MA, 2012, Brigham Young University

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.

Subjects/Keywords: autobiography; cookbooks; food; Roland Barthes; David Lebovitz; Ina Garten; Dorie; Greenspan; food blogs; narrative; persona; reader; English Language and Literature

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APA (6th Edition):

Barlow, R. Q. (2012). Nourishing the Self: Cookbooks as Autobiography. (Masters Thesis). Brigham Young University. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Barlow, Rebecca Quist. “Nourishing the Self: Cookbooks as Autobiography.” 2012. Masters Thesis, Brigham Young University. Accessed June 24, 2019.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Barlow, Rebecca Quist. “Nourishing the Self: Cookbooks as Autobiography.” 2012. Web. 24 Jun 2019.


Barlow RQ. Nourishing the Self: Cookbooks as Autobiography. [Internet] [Masters thesis]. Brigham Young University; 2012. [cited 2019 Jun 24]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Barlow RQ. Nourishing the Self: Cookbooks as Autobiography. [Masters Thesis]. Brigham Young University; 2012. Available from: