Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, vi, 248 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Laura Wilder

Committee Members

Tamika Carey, Bret Benjamin, Robert Yagelski


food, literature, local, locavore, rhetoric, spatial, Food writing, Food habits, Local foods, Food supply, Community-supported agriculture, Sustainable living

Subject Categories

American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Rhetoric


This project seeks to treat the word “local” as a social construct that, if left unexamined, has concrete consequences, from seed to fork, and from reader to student writer. As a study in contemporary rhetorical formations, I focus on what I term the genre of Locavore writing as a discrete genre of social movement writing, to intervene in definitions and applications of a set of rhetorical concepts; discourse communities, rhetorical situations, and proverbial knowledge. Additionally, I reframe the need for post-spatial turn considerations within rhetorical studies in spatial rhetoric for both the study of literature, and writing pedagogy. The focus on definitions of “local” eating, and what thinking or acting “locally” activates for its discourse community of readers and eaters is metonymic of North American constructions of space on county, state and national levels (in both the United States and Canada). For example, discourse communities of readers and eaters end up operating in predetermined discursive and discrete “local” spaces, in ways that are at odds with accepted definitions for the operation of discourse communities. The foundational texts that I examine in the Locavore genre are Gary Paul Nabhan’s Coming Home to Eat (2002), Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (2007), Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon’s 100 Mile Diet (2007), and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006). Through close-readings, I use a combination of classical and contemporary rhetorical lenses in order to show the relevance of these rhetorical tools in both reading contemporary cultural and spatial formations, as well as reading and teaching literature and writing in ways that shape food choices on individual and systemic levels.