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Jennifer R. Oskin
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
School of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication
Ree Drummond is the creator of the wildly popular lifestyle blog, thepioneerwoman.com, and star of the Food Network show, “The Pioneer Woman.” This thesis analyzes the rhetorical practices of Ree Drummond, as “The Pioneer Woman,” and how critics’ responses to this constructed persona have taken shape on blogging platforms. To conduct this analysis, I examined a variety of artifacts from Drummond’s public persona including her blog, cookbooks, television episodes, as well as YouTube videos of her public appearances and speaking engagements. I also analyzed the forums in which people respond to “The Pioneer Woman”; this includes op-eds on the Internet, blogs such as The Pioneer Woman Sux, commenting forums, and independent academic pieces such as a dissertation. Overall, this project discovered that blogging is a medium that people turn to for self-expression and community; a space in which ordinary people can feel a sense of belonging. Thus, the backlash surrounding the rhetorical practices of Ree Drummond suggests that critics do not identify with the Pioneer Woman persona that she is constructing because they do not recognize the text and images that Drummond conveys online and onscreen, as being congruent to their idea of what a “real” pioneer woman should look like. To express their feelings of “estrangement” as Kenneth Burke would say, critics utilize the “medium of ordinary people” in order to challenge whether Drummond’s representation of an extraordinary lifestyle is evidence of “real” country living. In questioning Drummond’s authenticity, critics’ comments suggest an inaccurate perception that the blogging genre is capable of revealing unfiltered reality, as well as an ambivalence about Drummond’s worthiness of the label “Pioneer Woman” due to historical perceptions of 19th century pioneer women as hardworking, manual laborers. However, it is unfair to compare Drummond to her frontier ancestors, as in this process critics dismiss her intellectual labor as a professional blogger. Therefore, ultimately, this works calls for a re-conceptualization of the definition of a pioneer, to acknowledge Drummond’s successful utilization of modern-day technological tools that resulted in a lucrative brand based off her lived experiences as a wife and mother living on a cattle ranch.
Oskin, Jennifer R., "Trying to restrict her range: The backlash in response to Ree Drummond, “The Pioneer Woman,” and Drummond’s agency in constructing and profiting from a 21st century pioneering persona" (2016). Masters Theses. 121.