ANT 393 • Food in Discourse & Thought
7:00 PM-10:00 PM
Food sustains us, giving meaning, order, and values to our lives; and food reflects the symbolism in our ideological systems. Food plays an important part in our identity construction, our religious practices, and our socialization. Foodways can thus tell us a lot about the society in which they play a part. Moroever foodways reflect and influence a society's technology. This course will investigate the facts that we communicate messages by means of as well as about foods, that we communicate frequently and much about foods, and that we can look at foodways to discern cultural presuppositions used in communication. Topics explored in this course will include food preferences and taboos, genetically modified foods, fast foods, technology in production, distribution, and preparation of foods, conversation during the production and consumption of food, food as a topic of conversation, naming and beliefs about foods, food metaphors, social structure in seating and eating, meals and manners, food and education, food and religion, food and sex, food and identity, food and power, food and the senses, food and the flow of time, and maize in Mesoamerica.
Food participates in multiple symbolic systems in a society, and one goal of this course, conducted in a seminar format, will be to discern some of the meanings that can be read into the language-like patterns to be found in the choices and variations in what, when, where, and how people eat, as well as what, where, when, why, and how they talk about food. In this course we will have three ethnographic "exercises" in which participants will collect information on foods that could be interesting and relevant to the course.
Grades will be assigned on the basis of class participation and on the written (+/- 10 pages each) and oral presentation of the results of three ethnographic exercises.
Margaret Visser 1991. The Rituals of Dinner .Counihan, Carole & Penny Van Esterik, eds., 1998. Food & Culture: A Reader. [very different from the Farb and Armelagos book, this one is an edited reader with excellent seminal articles]