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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Humanities

Advisor 1

Marika Seigel

Committee Member 1

Andrew Fiss

Committee Member 2

Victoria Bergvall

Committee Member 3

Jordynn Jack


This dissertation explores healthy eating messages circulated online, considering the role of digital rhetoric in shaping possibilities for healthy food access. Assembling tactical technical communication with ecological and feminist rhetorical frameworks, the analysis considers the interplay of institutional and user-produced healthy eating texts with a view toward ideologies and rhetorical strategies shaping access to diet. Findings reveal how institutional digital media texts, respectively promoting the mindful consumption of processed food and clean food, constrain access to healthy eating through an individualistic ideology. To different extents, tactical texts intervene in strategic diet culture’s reductive focus on individualism and quantification. Intuitive eating Instagram posts promote embodied rhetorical listening and invitational healthy eating tactics, but the post-feminist social media channels on which they are circulated limit their potential to promote access to healthy eating practices. While at times still entangled with individualistic discourses, community cookbooks distributed during the Covid-19 pandemic orchestrate interdependent tactics that open possibilities for physical, psychological, and environmental health within communities. Instructing audiences in the creative assembly of ingredients toward affordable and nourishing meals, rhetors subvert recipes as prescriptions and transform the genre to facilitate community resilience. Through considering the potential impacts of community gardening and cooking, the implications of these findings suggest, in lieu of dietary prescriptions, rhetorical acts can instead encourage communities to engage in bricolage, to cobble together their own healthy eating practices specific to their own preferences, knowledge, lifestyles, and levels of access.