Julia Child topic of gender and women’s studies lecture

Michael Squire

Julia Child, a cooking and media icon, is the subject of a guest lecture being hosted by the gender and women’s studies department.

Tracey Deutsch, associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota, will give the lecture in the Gary Ransdell Hall auditorium Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. This is a free, swipe-able event for students.

“The [department] was interested in focusing on sustainability and food issues this year,” Dorothea Browder, assistant professor of history, said about inviting Deutsch. “We wanted to bring someone who could provide historical perspective.”

Browder is also a member of the gender and women’s studies steering committee and being most familiar with her work, hatched the idea to invite Deutsch.

Julia Child was a popular American chef, cookbook author and television personality known for shows such as “The French Chef,” helping to integrate French cuisine into mainstream American home cooking.

One of her cookbooks, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” stood as the bestselling cookbook for years after being published in 1961. With these accolades, Child was recognized as a centerpiece of influence for culinary professionals and women in America. Child died in 2004 at the age of 91.

Deutsch claims that Child’s success emerged not only from her powerful personality and the appetizing appeal of her professionally-prepared French cuisine but also by the new media infrastructure of the time.

Her work also caused more middle and upper-class people to host dinner events for socialization, according to the gender and women’s studies department.

Deutsch argues that Child’s life was, in itself, an extraordinary project, causing profound changes to take root in American life. She sees in Child’s life the growing impact of food in American culture, middle-class identity and even politics.

“I think this is a terrific event for anyone interested in the 1950s and the late 20th century, mass culture gender roles, changes in family life, the media and public policy,” Browder said. “It should especially appeal to students in pop culture studies, history, gender and women’s studies, journalism, folk studies and policy, but also I think it will be quite interesting for the general public. Who’s not interested in food?”