Stirring the Pot

The Kitchen and Domesticity in the Fiction of Southern Women


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About the Book

The term “domesticity” may bring to mind cooking, cleaning, and tranquil evenings at home. During the last few decades, however, American domesticity has become ever more politicized as third-wave feminists, conservative critics, and others debate the very meaning of home and family. Despite this new wave of debate, the home, particularly the kitchen, is comfortable territory for the consolidation of issues of gender, space, marketplace, community, and technology in twentieth century literature.
This work looks closely at a wide variety of southern domestic literature, focusing particularly on the role of the family kitchen as a driving force in the narratives of Ellen Glasgow, Eudora Welty, Lee Smith, and Toni Morrison. Topics include the overtones of isolation and the almost claustrophobic third-person narration of Glasgow’s Virginia and Life and Gabriella; the communal kitchen and its role in defining the sexual discourse of Welty’s Delta Wedding; the unification of national railway lines and its consequences for the traditional Appalachian kitchen in Smith’s Oral History and Fair and Tender Ladies; and the lasting effects of slavery on the “haunted domesticity” of the African-American kitchen in Morrison’s Jazz, Paradise, and Love.

About the Author(s)

Laura Sloan Patterson is an associate professor of English at Seton Hill University, where she teaches American and southern literature and directs the undergraduate writing program. She lives in western Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Laura Sloan Patterson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3523-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5227-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1

ONE. From Courtship to Kitchen Radical Domesticity in Twentieth-Century Southern Women’s Fiction      11

TWO. Ellen Glasgow’s “Sacred Inner Circle” of Domestic Isolation      40

THREE. Sexing The Domestic Eudora Welty’s      Delta Wedding and the Sexology Movement      80

FOUR. Trains, Letters, and Pickled Peppers Lee Smith and the Effect of Railway Unification on Appalachian Domesticity      107

FIVE. “No Place Like and No Place but Home” Domestic Resistance in Toni Morrison’s Paradise, Jazz and Love      140

SIX. Betty Crocker, Betty Friedan, and the Techno-Southern Belles Reading the Online Kitchen      177

Afterword      203

Chapter Notes      205

Works Cited      215

Index      225

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