We are delighted to share with you the schedule for our Spring Gastronomy Colloquium. We are featuring exciting Food Studies works in progress by scholars from diverse disciplines. The colloquium is intended to be a forum for food studies scholars in the Greater Boston Area to meet each other and as such is open to all who are interested. In other words, come and bring a friend!
Boston University’s Programs in Food and Wine and MLA in Gastronomy Program are pleased to announce the following lectures scheduled for the Fall 2017 semester. Lectures in the Pépin Series are free and open to the public, but registration with Boston University’s Programs in Food and Wine is required.
The Cooking Gene, with Michael Twitty
Tuesday, October 24 at 6pm College of Arts and Sciences, 725 Commonwealth Ave, Room 224
Renowned culinary historian, Michael W. Twitty, offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, using the popular but complicated lens of Southern cuisine and food culture. To do so he traced his ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom. Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who “owns” it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race. His mission, to re-create the culinary genius of Black colonial and antebellum chefs sits side by side with revealing truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.
Food on the Page, with Megan Elias
Wednesday, November 8 at 6pm College of Arts and Sciences Building, 725 Commonwealth Ave, Room 224
What’s in a cookbook? More than repositories of recipes, cookbooks play a role in the creation of taste on both a personal and national level. From Fannie Farmer to the Chez Panisse Cookbook to food blogs, American cookbooks have commented on national cuisine while also establishing distinct taste cultures. In Food on the Page, Megan Elias explores what it means to take cookbooks seriously as a genre of writing that is as aspirational as it is prescriptive.
Remembering German-Jewish Culture through its Culinary Traditions, with Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman
Wednesday, November 29 at 6pm
College of Arts and Sciences, 725 Commonwealth Ave, Room 224
What happens to a food tradition when its culture starts to vanish? The advent of the Nazi era brought about the demise of 1000 years of Jewish life in Germany and its cuisine, which differs greatly from the Eastern European one that is generally the accepted definition of Jewish food. This food tradition lives on in the kitchens of some German Jews and in the memories of many others around the world. This talk, by a mother-daughter author team with a German-Jewish background, will address issues of food and memory, food as cultural identity, and preserving and documenting traditional recipes.
“The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and a History of a Cuisine” by Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman, Brandies University Press
Dr. Karen Metheny will teach Food and Society (MET ML 712) on Thursday evenings during the fall 2017 semester, and has prepared this overview of the class.
»How do social institutions shape the way we think about food? Our ability to access food?
»How do work schedules and family dynamics shape or constrain the family meal?
»Do social classes and institutions affect the way we shop? The food we prefer?
In Food and Society, students will examine these kinds of questions and look specifically at how social groups, categories, and institutions shape, structure, or are structured by food-related practices. We will look at multiple contexts of food production, access, procurement, and consumption, including rural agricultural sites, urban homesteads, grocery shopping, CSAs, and food assistance programs. We will also examine the intersection of food practices with class, ethnicity, race, age, and gender.
We will engage in a range of exercises to explore methods (visual sociology, food chain analysis, surveys and questionnaires, interviews) that can be applied to a final research project. The research project offers students a wonderful opportunity to pursue in-depth analysis of key topics in food studies. A sample of past projects includes:
focused analysis of the role of ethnic food trucks as potential agents of taste expansion, authenticity, or cultural appropriation
food as cultural capital among millennials
a comparative study of Haymarket and Boston Public Market in the context of creating social well-being and a ‘sense of community’
the mission and sustainability of The Daily Table
the food landscape of Jamaica Plain
dinner on demand services as cultural capital
functional foods and grocery shopping through the lens of yogurt
Students have utilized Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram as sources of data, conducted surveys through Facebook, created photo essays and videos, and collected oral interviews to complete their projects. Students will also have the opportunity to hear from a number of area food scholars and activists, and we will work with Dr. Bob Cadigan from the Applied Social Sciences department to create and implement surveys and questionnaires. Hope to see you in class!
MET ML 712, Food and Society, will meet on Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 8:45 pm, starting on September 7, 2017. Registration information can be found here.
Dr. Ellen Rovner will teach MET ML 641, The Anthropology of Food, during the fall 2017 semester and has prepared this Course Spotlight.
Anthropologists like to say that the study of anthropology makes the strange familiar and the familiar strange. Whether the “strange” is a Japanese Sumo wrestler’s eating habits, a medieval German nun’s fasts, or the person next door’s “exotic” cooking, anthropologists believe and practice that only through knowing the “other,” do we know ourselves. What does this mean for those of us who will be together for The Anthropology of Food this fall semester? First and foremost, we will be looking at the study of food cross-culturally as central to the understanding of humankind and society. The famous anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss said that food is not just good to eat; food is also good to think with. In other words, what do people’s everyday food practices, rituals, traditions, beliefs, and preferences cross-culturally and at home say to us about whom we are and the worlds we inhabit?
Using our food-focused lens to examine critical social issues related to class, race, human migrations, globalization, ethnicity, alternative food systems, and gender, this semester students will immerse themselves in anthropology’s signature methodology, participant observation, and conduct ethnographic research. Choosing a food-related topic that personally resonates for the student, each member of the class will participate in a semester long qualitative study in the Boston area to familiarize themselves with field methods and to hone critical thinking. In past semesters, students’ projects have covered a fascinating range of topics such as how global food systems contribute to re-creating “home” for non-American residents, class meanings of “farm to table” in restaurants, and eating at the movies.
Anthropology of Food is structured as a seminar; students are encouraged to lead as well as participate in discussions. Along the way, our learning is enhanced with live on-line sessions, movies, guest speakers, field trips to local food sites related to our readings, and most importantly, with snack breaks that highlight our own food rituals, traditions, and preferences. Familiarizing the strange and making the strange the familiar, Anthropology of Food presents food as both good to eat and good to think with! Please join us!
MET ML 641 C1, Anthropology of Food will meet on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8:45 PM, beginning on September 6. Registration information can be found here.
Dr. Megan Elias will teach Readings in Food History (MET ML 633) on Wednesday evenings during the fall 2017 semester, and has prepared this overview of the class.
Every meal is a historical text, carrying messages about such things as global migrations, customs and trade routes. Because food has been both a constant and a catalyst in human histories many of the most important decisions made in the past depended on the need for sustenance or desire for new flavors. Paying close attention to food in world history helps to explain motives and strategies that shaped our world.
Through reading a selection of foundational and recent works in food history students will be able to identify and synthesize some of the major themes and arguments in the field. While dedicated food histories are a relatively new genre, food has always appeared in historical texts and these texts tell stories of their own that are sometimes left out of dominant narratives. We will consider some primary sources alongside our secondary texts to make sense of how food historians use their sources to build arguments. This work will help prepare students for Researching Food History, to be taught in the following semester.
Books we will be reading include the classic, Sweetness and Power by Sidney Mintz as well as more recent titles such as Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan by Eric Rath, Wine, Sugar and the Making of Modern France, by Elizabeth Heath, and To Live and Dine in Dixie by Angela Jill Cooley.
MET ML 633, Readings in Food History, will meet on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 8:45 pm, starting on September 6, 2017. Registration information can be found here.