Date of Graduation

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Lisa Hinrichsen

Committee Member

Robert Cochran

Second Committee Member

Susan Marren

Abstract

Southern identities are undoubtedly influenced by the region's foodways. However, the South tends to neglect and even to negate certain peoples and their identities. Women, especially lesbians, are often silenced within southern literature. Where Tennessee Williams used literature to bridge gaps between gay men and the South, southern lesbian literature severely lacks a traceable history of such connections. The principal objective of this thesis is to explore the ways in which southern lesbians manipulate food metaphors to describe their sexual desires and identities. This thesis only begins to lay out a history of southern lesbian literature as many lesbian writers were unable to state their sexuality explicitly. They then used southern foodways and food metaphors as a way to express and discuss their sexuality. Understanding how lesbians utilize these metaphors helps us to understand better how female sexuality is constructed in the South. This thesis seeks to reveal the intricate lattice of being southern, being female, and being gay. It is about reconciling a person's roots with a sexual identity that is not always accepted or even acknowledged. A better understanding of food's connection to female identity will enable people to notice these repressed voices. Readers need to examine southern literature more closely for stifled female and lesbian voices and read beyond what is on the page.