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Since the first boxy black-and-white TV sets began to appear in American living rooms in the late 1940s, we have been watching people chop, saute, fillet, whisk, flip, pour, arrange and serve food on the small screen. More than just a how-to or an amusement, cooking shows are also a unique social barometer. Their legacy corresponds to the transition from women at home to women at work, from eight-hour to 24/7 workdays, from cooking as domestic labor to enjoyable leisure, and from clearly defined to more fluid gender roles. While variety shows, Westerns, and live, scripted dramas have gone the way of rabbit ear antennae, cooking shows are still being watched, often on high definition plasma screens via Tivo. "Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows" illuminates how cooking shows have both reflected and shaped significant changes in American culture and will explore why it is that just about everybody still finds them irresistible.
Kathleen Collins is an experienced author and researcher who has studied and written about television, media history, popular culture and food. Her work has appeared in the magazines Working Woman and Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture and in the anthology Secrets & Confidences: The Complicated Truth About Women's Friendships (Seal Press: 2004). She has also written encyclopaedia entries on a variety of media history topics. She has a Master's degree in journalism with a specialization in cultural reporting and criticism from New York University and a Master's degree in library science from Long Island University. For the past ten years, she has worked as an editorial researcher for a variety of publications including Glamour and Ladies' Home Journal. She is now a librarian and lives in Manhattan.