Diet books are a multi-billion dollar industry and in Diet and the Disease of Civilization (Rutgers University Press, 2018), Adrienne Rose Bitar explores the...

Diet books are a multi-billion dollar industry and in Diet and the Disease of Civilization (Rutgers University Press, 2018), Adrienne Rose Bitar explores the narratives of those books. Bitar looks at the ways in which diet books not only present American’s with dieting advice, but also create cultural narratives about how we should live. Through the exploration of hundreds of diet books over the past century (and sometimes more), Bitar examines four popular diets, viewing them as narratives for American culture. She looks at the Paleo Diet, the Garden of Eden Diet, The Pacific Island Diet and the Detox Diet as larger myths about American culture and social movements. Bitar’s work explores how diet books call for a healthier society by urging readers to create what they believe to be a more perfect world. She argues that diet books criticize excess, addiction, alienation, and the disruption and disappearance of traditional lifeways showing readers how to return to conditions that create optimal health and a more “natural” way of eating and existing in our world.


Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English at Western Illinois University. Her work examines the role of narrative in peoples lives. She researches zines, zine writers and the influence of music subcultures and fandom on writers and narratives. You can find more about her on her website, follow her on Twitter @rj_buchanan or email her at [email protected].

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