Adrienne Rose Johnson
Areas of Interest:
Using history, art history, and literary criticism, I study the public laments for an imagined history and the cyclical attempts to escape modernity in the United States. Specifically, I have understood popular culture objects like early 20th century dude ranches, eating contests, gingerbread houses, diet books, and extreme couponing to be enormously meaningful cultural expressions of the shifting meanings of landscape, labor, history, and the body.
My dissertation studies nostalgia in popular dieting literature, considering how these bestsellers use the metaphor of health and the inviolable body to articulate deep-seated longings for beauty, immediacy, and purity. Other interests include American landscape art, the history of American vacationing, nostalgia, romance, honeymooning, frugality, and factory tourism. All of my analyses aspire towards the promise of popular culture studies: that responsible research and sensitive inquiry reveal, in the vulgar arts of everyday life, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. And, in some small way, these stories speak in clear language but coded meaning towards just what, for the men and women who told them, it meant to be alive.
"Romancing the Dude Ranch, 1927-1945" in Western Historical Quarterly (Fall 2012).
“Magic Metabolisms: Competitive Eating and the Formation of an American Bodily Idea.” Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World. Ed. Carole Counihan and Psyche Williams-Forson. New York: Routledge, 2011.