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Diaspora and displacement : The evocation of traditions, origins and identity in culinary memoirs, an emerging literary genre

Abstract : Bearing semantic elements of family myths and feminine discourse, culinary memoirs invite questions about their literary pertinence as a contemporary genre. This study considers their narrational ambitions, their poetic quality, the genre(s) from which they emerge, and also that which they define. We hypothesise that they have a literary relevance at the intersection of several genres. The examination of an extensive corpus allows us to observe its diversity and intertextuality, as well as the historical perspective of precursory texts, offering a new reading of earlier works.Rooted in autobiography and food writing, with traits of travel literature, culinary memoirs are a hybrid genre that explores identity, the quest for which is often motivated by the diasporic loss of homelands, or family trauma. We analyse the narrative and the emerging genre to understand how it represents self-writing and food within the travel narrative genre. As well as weaving culinary traditions with recipes, memoirs reveal a spiritual dimension, synonymous with an inward journey. Appraising culinary memoirs from the perspective of foodways, as culturally-defined consumption, and travel literature, elucidates the central questions of identity and origins within the context of inner and outward displacement.The genre’s multiple paradoxes are symptomatic of its resourcefulness, drawing from diverse elements to create an overarching food narrative, as a corpus of recipes that embodies a universal truth, to which nourishment, both physical and symbolic, holds the key.
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Virginia Allen-Terry Sherman. Diaspora and displacement : The evocation of traditions, origins and identity in culinary memoirs, an emerging literary genre. Literature. Université Grenoble Alpes [2020-..], 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020GRALL002⟩. ⟨tel-02861616⟩

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