Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

W. Scott Howard

Second Advisor

Doug Hesse

Third Advisor

Eleanor McNees

Fourth Advisor

Anne Penner


Domestic labor, Ethos-as-location, Herbal knowledge, Recipes and cookbooks, Women's rhetoric, Women's writing


Material Interactions: Early Modern Women’s Textual Embodiments claims that early modern women writers present embodied constructions of the sensory-domestic—the bodily practices of herbal and culinary labor, which were shared with medical and scientific practices—to locate an ethos at the intersection of medical, scientific and literary discourse communities. Drawing from approaches including ethos-as-location, rhetorical genre, and early modern ecofeminism, my articulation of a sensory-domestic ethos offers new ways to explore the ways writers construct ethos by navigating their individual standpoint, their writing context, and their “acceptable” social labor. My first section argues that early modern women engaged ingredients as agents in the process of composition and explores how they presented their gathering labor to establish ethos. In this section, I explore how Shakespeare’s Perdita and Ophelia present herbs within social roles to create persuasive speech, how ingredients themselves created possibility for experimentation and composition in early modern medical recipes, and how Isabella Whitney and Anne Wheathill establish themselves in garden locations and enact gendered labors to authorize their public writing. In my second section, I analyze how women presented their bodies as sites and tools for experimentation. I first analyze the ways recipe texts cite the body to measure, test and establish the authority of medical and culinary recipes, and then explore the ways Margaret Cavendish’s Duchess and Emperess enact recipe-based labors and practices that bridge multiple discourse communities in the New Blazing World. My final chapter applies and critiques the approaches of both sections, considering the ways ingredients and agency are implicated with race in the early modern period, and exploring how these considerations interact with the sensory-domestic ethos of contemporary Black British recipe writers Zoe Adjonyoh and Benjamina Ebuehi. This work ultimately articulates a network of rhetorical approaches that allowed early modern women writers to create a particular sensory-domestic ethos, and demonstrates the ways similar considerations could be used to analyze other rhetorical approaches by women, from the early modern period to the present.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Olivia R. Tracy


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

294 pgs


Rhetoric, English literature, Women's studies