Cold War, Hot Kitchen

Kate Baldwin

in Globalizing American Studies

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780226185064
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226185088 | DOI:
Cold War, Hot Kitchen

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The iconic housewife is a “combination of mainstream recognition, wide circulation, and textural impact” which positions her as a site for ideological relay and as a site of ideological excess. The iconic housewife follows the four vectors of influence as important for an iconic image: it communicates social knowledge, reproduces attendant ideology, shapes collective memory, and provides figural resources for communicative action. Americans made an effort to showcase the advances made by the United States in domestic technologies, and thus to bring the battle for technological superiority down to earth. The use of the kitchen to advertise the bounty of American consumerism quickly dispensed with the notion that the home was anything but political. The image of social unity, of universal attitudes and emotions generated from the home kitchen, actually depends on and sustains visions of domestic expansion. This chapter introduces an advertisement that helps to explain the ambivalence housed in this promise of consumer choice by the assertion of domesticity's liberating vectors. It points to the ambivalence between maternal plentitude and female absence, or the diversity of market choice held out as interpersonal intimacy.

Keywords: housewife; iconic image; kitchen; American consumerism; domestic expansion

Chapter.  8089 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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