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Elizabeth Engelhardt, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2009

AMS 390 • American Food

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30020 T
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
BUR 436B
Engelhardt

Course Description

Polenta or grits? Spaghetti or udon? Pancakes, crepes, or galettes? Biscuits, cornbread, tortillas or sourdough? Regardless of what we call them, individual ingredients, recipes, and food choices tell stories of race, class, ethnicity, gender, and region in the United States. Thanksgiving dinner at grandma's house, fast food from the drive-through, a slow food meal harvested from the community garden, or five-star haute cuisine at this month's hippest restaurant? Where we eat, how much we pay for it, and who labors to create it tell us about capital, nation, and connections between global and local economies.

This class will explore diverse American food cultures from a humanities perspective. Along with scholarship in the new field of food studies, we will use cookbooks, novels, poetry, photographs, songs, documentaries, and oral histories to investigate the past and present of American food communities. We will certainly engage our senses to listen, taste, and touch, as well as read about the food practices we are investigating. We will trace a history of diverse American foodways over roughly the past three hundred years; we will also trace a historiography of food scholarship, looking at how this field has blossomed in the past ten years. We will explore the definitions of the "texts" of food studies—from secondary scholarship to recipes, food labels, garden histories, newspaper columns, literary musings, and corporate archives.

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