The recent popularity of literature about food and farming has produced an explosion of what might be generously termed lazy agrarianism or, less generously, organic fertilizer. This agrarianism features a mushy conflation of terms in service of a Manichean view of agriculture: local, organic, sustainable, and alternative versus global, industrial, unsustainable, and capitalist. It then transposes the former cluster of good characteristics onto an imaginary agricultural past. That the alternative food child should be as mythical as its nostalgic agrarian parent is fitting. As both Kathryn Cornell Dolan’s Beyond the Fruited Plain and Allison Carruth’s Global Appetites demonstrate, farming in the United States has been a privileged site for modernist imaginings. This is in part because the history of American agriculture is first and foremost the often-ugly history of capitalism, slavery, and settler colonialism. It is no wonder that many agrarian writers have preferred to look forward, outward, past, and...
Beyond the Fruited Plain: Food and Agriculture in U.S. Literature, 1850–1905
Global Appetites: American Power and the Literature of Food
Gabriel N. Rosenberg is assistant professor of women’s studies at Duke University. His research explores the intersections among gender, sexuality, political economy, and the global food system. He is the author of The 4-H Harvest: Sexuality and the State in Rural America (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), a gendered and sexual history of the US Department of Agriculture’s iconic rural youth clubs. He is currently at work on two new research projects, Purebred: Making Meat and Eugenics in Modern America and Queer Agriculture: Farming after Industrial Reproduction.
Gabriel N. Rosenberg; Beyond the Fruited Plain: Food and Agriculture in U.S. Literature, 1850–1905
Global Appetites: American Power and the Literature of Food. American Literature 1 June 2016; 88 (2): 408–410. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-3533410
Download citation file: