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Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 What Are We Feeding Our Children When We Read Them a Book? Depictions of Mothers and Food in Contemporary Australian Picture Books
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This chapter explores how Australian writers and illustrators in the twenty-first century depict the act of mothering in picture books for young children in relation to cooking and serving food. It draws on the idea that children’s texts can be understood as sites of cultural production and reproduction, with social conventions and ideologies embedded in their narrative representations. The analysis is based on a survey of 124 books that were shortlisted for, or won, Children’s Book Council of Australia awards between 2001 and 2013. Of the eighty-seven titles that contain food and have human or anthropomorphised characters, twenty-six (30 percent) contain textual or illustrative references to maternal figures involved in food preparation or provision. Examination of this data set reveals that there is a strong correlation between non-Anglo-Australian maternal figures and home-cooked meals, and a clear link between Anglo-Australian mothers and sugar-rich snacks. The relative paucity of depictions of ethnically unmarked mothers offering more nutritious foods is notable given the cultural expectations of mothers as caretakers of their children’s well-being. At the same time, the linking of non-Anglo-Australian mothers with home-cooked meals can be seen as a means of signifying a cultural authenticity, a closeness to the earth that is differentiated from the normalised Australian culture represented in picture books. This suggests an unintended alignment of mothers preparing and serving meals with “otherness,” which creates a distancing effect between meals that may generally be considered nutritious and the normalised self. I contend there are unexamined, and perhaps unexpected, cultural assumptions about ethnicity, motherhood, and food embedded in contemporary Australian picture books. These have the potential to inscribe a system of beliefs about gender, cultural identity, and food that contributes to readers’ understanding of the world and themselves.'

Source: Abstract.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Mothers and Food : Negotiating Foodways from Maternal Perspectives Florence Pasche Guignard (editor), Tanya M. Cassidy (editor), Ontario : Demeter Press , 2016 10489156 2016 anthology criticism

    'From multidisciplinary perspectives, this volume explores the roles mothers play in the producing, purchasing, preparing and serving of food to their own families and to their communities in a variety of contexts. By examining cultural representations of the relationships between feeding and parenting in diverse media and situations, these contributions highlight the tensions in which mothers get entangled. They show mothers’ agency — or lack thereof — in negotiating the environmental, material, and economic reality of their feeding care work while upholding other ideals of taste, nutrition, health and fitness shaped by cultural norms. The contributors to Mothers and Food go beyond the normative discourses of health and nutrition experts and beyond the idealistic images that are part of marketing strategies. They explore what really drives mothers to maintain or change their family’s foodways, for better or for worse, paying a particular attention to how this shapes their maternal identity. Questioning the motto according to which “people are what they eat,” the chapters in this volume show that mothers cannot be categorized simply by how they feed themselves and their family.'

    Source: Publisher's blurb.

    Ontario : Demeter Press , 2016
    pg. 232-244
Last amended 12 Jun 2018 13:43:49
232-244 What Are We Feeding Our Children When We Read Them a Book? Depictions of Mothers and Food in Contemporary Australian Picture Bookssmall AustLit logo
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