Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Scott Honeycutt

Committee Members

Isabel Gomez-Sobrino, Jesse Graves


Food is a universal human necessity, yet food often serves more than a biological purpose as it informs individual and communal identities, and even facilitates memory. This thesis explores personal memory, the development of identity, and an almost reverential connection to nature in several food poems by Li-Young Lee in Rose (1986) and Behind My Eyes (2008). Born in 1957, Lee has been writing poetry since he was young, studying under Gerald Stern in the late 1970s, and he is known for writing sublime, transcendent yet incredibly accessible and expressive poetry. This thesis gives an overview of food studies and establishes food in Lee’s poems — principally fruit, shared meals, and lonely meals — as the central image, signifier, or as Roland Barthes might call it, the myth that allows the speaker of these poems to metaphorically fulfill the aphorism, “you are what you eat.”

Document Type

Thesis - embargo


Copyright by the authors.

Available for download on Saturday, June 15, 2024