Julie and Julia: a feminist reading

by Raina DeFonza

“Julie and Julia”  is a body of work, composed of a book, a film and a yearlong series of blog entries, compiled by Julie Powell.  The body of work chronicles Powell’s experiences as she attempts to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s 1961 Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the span of one year.  In the face of an unfulfilling dead-end job and a rather monotonous life, Powell believes that pushing herself through these recipes will reinvigorate her life and her soul.  Her love of cooking (and eating), as well as her marriage and sanity, are pushed to the test as she completes each recipe in her small, rundown apartment’s kitchen in Queens.  With the support of her husband, Powell finds that the assignment she has given herself, though more difficult than she imagined, has the remarkable result of giving her purpose and fulfillment.  The focus of the book and the blog are solely on Powell’s experiences, however the film integrates Julia Child’s life in France.

Upon closer examination, the project presents a discourse surrounding the significance of the kitchenspace in contemporary America. The space presents challenges as well as opportunities for women, especially in conjunction with technology. In this project, the kitchen is analyzed as a dichotomous space, being both oppressive and empowering. Despite often being viewed as a sexist space within feminist theory, in the Julie/Julia project the kitchen is celebrated as a place of  liberation and self-discovery.

The apparent shifting nature of the kitchen is further complicated by the introduction of technology into the equation. This analysis explores the significant relationship between domesticity and technology, examining the connections within the specific context of blogging. The feminist concerns of the kitchenspace emerge within blogging. As a strangely personal yet very public tool, the medium allows the boundaries of the kitchenspace to be redrawn; the line between public and private is blurred, and the cyber-space becomes ambiguous.

In my analysis of the Julie/Julia project, I encountered several dialogues about feminism, ranging from technology to empowerment to domesticity. In the following sections, I explore these aspects of the project among others:

The Kitchenspace in the Julie/Julia Project

Blogging: Technology and Domesticity in the Julie/Julia Project

The Film

This page is part of a larger project entitled “Domesticity and Kitchens” by student researcher Raina DeFonza. Please go back to the Table of Contents to further explore this project.

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