Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Food Studies

First Advisor

Alice McLean

First Committee Member

Erica Peters


The Western regional magazine Sunset has been published under a series of owners and publishers since 1898. In 1928, Sunset was purchased by Lawrence Lane, a Midwestern magazine executive who transformed it from a failing turn-of-the-century, general interest publication about the West, into a successful magazine about living in the West for the Western middle-class. Sunset had always been a magazine for men and women, and one that appealed to both male and female intellectuals at the time Lane purchased it. Lane and his editors attempted to interject more rigid middle-class ideals into a magazine that had espoused ideas that were progressive and less structured. Lane's new strategy to compartmentalize Sunset's content into its four categories—gardening, the home, cooking, and travel—resulted in a magazine that was conventionally gendered. Tension due to this shift played out in the publication's new cooking department. This thesis traces the development of Sunset's cooking department between 1928 and 1938 under the direction of its creator and founding editor Genevieve Callahan through the examination and analysis of Sunset cooking features and oral histories. The original department, structured to model a middle-class domestic ideology, did not accommodate all of Sunset's readers. The Western intellectualism of pre-Lane readers and their tendency to be less bound by conventional gender roles in the kitchen carried over into Sunset's cooking department via reader recipe contributions. These Western cooks included men and women whose foodways deviated from that of the typical middle-class housewife. Callahan experimented throughout the cooking department's first decade by shifting its editorial framework and softening her home economics rigidity to create a department that was inclusive of women and men who cooked both inside and outside the kitchen. The changes made to the department over that decade illustrate how editorial experimentation reconciled a new middle-class-oriented cooking department to accommodate Western cooks less apt to model traditional gender roles.





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