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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric and Technical Communication (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Humanities

First Advisor

Marika A Seigel


Through the use of rhetoric centered on authority and risk avoidance, scientific method has co-opted knowledge, especially women's everyday and experiential knowledge in the domestic sphere. This, in turn, has produced a profound affect on technical communication in the present day. I am drawing on rhetorical theory to study cookbooks and recipes for their contributions to changes in instructional texts. Using the rhetorical lenses of metis (cunning intelligence), kairos (timing and fitness) and mneme (memory), I examine the way in which recipes and cookbooks are constructed, used and perceived. This helps me uncover lost voices in history, the voices of women who used recipes, produced cookbooks and changed the way instructions read.

Beginning with the earliest cookbooks and recipes, but focusing on the pivotal temporal interval of 1870-1935, I investigate the writing and rhetorical forces shaping instruction sets and domestic discourse. By the time of scientific cooking and domestic science, everyday and experiential knowledge were being excluded to make room for scientific method and the industrial values of the public sphere. In this study, I also assess how the public sphere, via Cooperative Extension Services and other government agencies, impacted the domestic sphere, further devaluing everyday knowledge in favor of the public scientific model. I will show how the changes in the production of food, cookbooks and recipes were related to changes in technical communication. These changes had wide rippling effects on the field of technical communication. By returning to some of the tenets and traditions of everyday and experiential knowledge, technical communication scholars, practitioners and instructors today can find new ways to encounter technical communication, specifically regarding the creation of instructional texts. Bringing cookbooks, recipes and everyday knowledge into the classroom and the field engenders a new realm of epistemological possibilities.