Katherine Hysmith

Image by Katherine Hysmith in her home kitchen.

Image by Katherine Hysmith in her home kitchen.

For my own part, I hope to show my daughter and her peers that food is not women’s work. It is work, hard work, fulfilling work, meaningful work, and work fraught with many socially, gendered, and racially complex layers, but still work worth doing. 
— Katherine Hysmith

Katherine Hysmith

PhD Candidate in American Studies at the University of North Carolina

What do you do in the food world and what do you love about it?
After I finished my MLA degree in Gastronomy at Boston University, I worked as a freelance writer, food photographer, and recipe editor for several local and national publications.The creativity involved in this field was so fulfilling, but I missed research and libraries and spirited debates in the classroom. So I went back to school. Now I'm a PhD Candidate in American Studies at the University of North Carolina where I study the intersections of food history, women, and technology. I'm able to combine all my interests with my dissertation on feminist food history which involves both suffrage-era cookbooks and the resistance movement of food-related hashtags on Instagram!

How has being a mother changed/inspired your work?
I felt (still feel) super guilty for starting graduate school when my daughter was born. But I wanted to prove to myself, the academy, and my daughter that motherhood was not a impediment to anything. It's incredibly tough at times (especially now that I have two littles), but my research on amazing generations of women and the messages of resistance they, at times, literally baked into their food, pushes me to continue.

Image by Katherine Hysmith in her home kitchen.

Image by Katherine Hysmith in her home kitchen.

What's your favorite part about experiencing food with your children?
Now that she's a bit older, my daughter is keen to help when I style a dish for a photo. She's learning patience, creativity, and how to help others all while she learns about new foods and dishes. Despite her hesitant palate, she's growing incredibly curious about different varieties of greens and root vegetables and cuts of meat, asking how to cook and eat each new ingredient as we shop at the local farmers' market or grocery co-op. But in the end, she's still a three-year-old who loves peanut butter and goldfish (but I'm not complaining). 

How do you see our generation of women impacting your daughter's generation? What are your hopes/dreams?
When I pitched my dissertation proposal to my advisor, she said that my work on women's food history was the sort of work women of all ages would and should be reading. That my daughter would one day read my work and be inspired to do her own great things in turn. I keep this thought in mind when I edit, making sure my work is accessible to my daughter when she's older and for people from all other walks, too.

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