Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reading Response: "Constructing Consumable and Consent. A Critical Analysis of Factory Farm Industry Discourse”

Readings on Writing (p. 144-154)
Reading Response
“Constructing Consumable and Consent.
A Critical Analysis of Factory Farm Industry Discourse” by Cathy Glenn

In “Constructing Consumable and Consent. A Critical Analysis of Factory Farm Industry Discourse,” Cathy Glenn attempts to describe how “doublespeak” and advertisements promote a particular way of knowing nonhuman animals. She argues that Americans view farm animals as objects for use and consumption rather than living subjects. Glenn establishes her concern when stating, “Ultimately, I argue that this factory farm industry discourse helps construct how USAmericans think about animals in ways that- tacitly and often times unintentionally- endorse industry practices even in the face of serious concerns raised by environmental and animal advocates” (145).

Glenn begins by analyzing studies done by William Cronon and explains the different discursive strategies involved in the industry. Cronon offers the ideas of “Nature as Commodity” and “Nature as Virtual Reality” Both terms are essentially metaphors that explain the ways in which the industry influences thoughts of humans in regard to nature. Nature as Commodity is promoted by doublespeak in a sense, considering the jargon used by the industry. Glenn describes doublespeak as terminology that is “intentionally misleading.” For example, the industry states “animals as units”- thus objectifying animals. Nature as Virtual Reality refers to technology and advertisement used to personify animals. The example for this is the Happy Cow advertisements that portray a talking cow: the cow is personified by having language but the virtual reality is not like the actual reality.

Glenn concludes by stating her thoughts and suggestions. She states that factory farms are hazardous to the environment and she believes that doublespeak and strategic advertisement are used to disguise such hazards. Glenn quotes Dunayer and suggests that “relanguaging” can be used to shift from objectifying animals to portraying them as living subjects. Also, she wants to relanguage some of the doublespeak so that hazards are not covered. Some examples are saying “nonhuman animals” instead of “animals” and changing “animals that” to “animals who.” Glenn also refers to Coe and suggests that strategies for reading, understanding, and decoding doublespeak should be taught early in public school. Finally, Glenn talks about Cronon’s suggestion to “find the middle ground between nature and wilderness.”

Glenn exposes the discursive strategies within the Factory Farm Industry Discourse. She explains how certain methods can be used to essentially “cover-up” bad things and other methods can be used to make some things appear to be okay. Strategies can very from one discourse community to the next. 

Considering this is the first reading for this unit, there is not much to relate it to. However, there is a connection to one past article in particular. This article can be distantly related to that of Brandt. Brandt describes how we have sponsors of literacy and as American consumers- our literacy of the Factory Farm Industry is strongly “sponsored” by doublespeak and advertisement. The different discursive strategies implemented by any discourse community influences the literacies of those whom are exposed to them. 


  1. Stephanie--
    Your summary is very thorough and touches upon many key ideas. What strategies does Glenn offer to resist discursive strategies of violence? Your connection to Brandt is strong. Pushing a bit further, Glenn discusses how Nature itself becomes a construct--who is another author who addresses social constructs?

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