Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
ams masthead
Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2007

AMS 311S • Dining Out in America: Culture and History-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30331 MWF
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
PAR 103

Course Description

From airplane food to fast food, steakhouses to Starbucks, we have all experienced dining out in one form or another. Interestingly, many of the same reasons why we eat out nowtravel, convenience, celebrations, and leisurecontributed to the creation of the first public eating establishments in the United States. This course examines the rise of restaurants in America from the colonial era to the present and analyzes how they function as public social spaces in American culture. Throughout the course, we will examine who has access to restaurants and in what capacity, and how different genres of eating establishments have been used by patrons to satisfy varying social and cultural demands and desires. What can a study of restaurants tell us about privilege and power, leisure and entertainment, class conflict and gender dynamics, ethnicity and nationalism, regional identity and American standardization? What can public dining spaces tell us about the private lives of their patrons? Finally, what role does food actually play in dining out? As an American Studies course, this class will use a variety of methods to investigate the cultural role of restaurants, drawing on fields as diverse as consumerism and advertising, architecture and design, women's and gender studies, legal cases, labor history, psychology, and chemical and biological sciences.

Grading Policy

As part of studying restaurant culture in the United States, students will learn how to conduct original historical research using a wide variety of primary sources including newspapers, magazines, books, archival manuscripts, advertisements, photography, and interviews. This course fulfills the requirement for a substantial writing component. Throughout the semester, students will complete two 3-5 page thesis-based analytical papers, one that engages with three primary documents and one that responds to a critical essay. The coursework will culminate in a 10-12 page research paper. In addition to weekly reading assignments, students will also complete weekly writing exercises that practice various genres of food writing, ranging from restaurant criticism and food memoir to recipes and book reviews.

" Participation (includes attendance, homework, quizzes, and in-class exercises): 20% " Weekly writing exercises: 10% " 3-5 page analytical papers: 20% each " Final research paper: 30%


Mark Kurlansky, The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell Andrew Dorenburg and Karen Page, Dining Out: Secrets from Americas Leading Critics, Chefs, and Restaurateurs Course Reader


bottom border