Date of Award

5-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Sample, Joseph C.

Committee Member

Sample, Joseph

Committee Member

Hilligoss, Susan

Committee Member

Robinson, Kathleen Wilson

Abstract

Beginning in the late 1940s, concerns arose about the enlarging scope of the industrial American food system. Subsequent analysis revealed a continuing pattern of expansion throughout the 1970s and 1980s. A countermovement developed with the aim of altering food production and distribution to create more regionalized food systems. Eventually, individual states came to create their own marketing programs to promote locally grown foods. Private interests also developed initiatives to promote eating locally. By 2007, the term coined to describe one who strives to eat local foods, "locavore," had become New Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year. The states' efforts are compared here with those of a private interest to determine whether the various campaigns create symbolic convergence and present a cohesive message. This thesis examines the campaigns using Ernest Bormann's symbolic convergence theory and its critical method, fantasy-theme analysis, to deconstruct the narratives laid out in the promotions. It presents examples of the impact such campaigns can have on regional economies, and studies the messages and media of the campaigns. Interviews with program managers in three states create case studies that provide further insights into the rhetorical dimensions of those campaigns.

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