Folklore | Food: Art & Culture
F540 | 23170 | Shukla


This graduate seminar will center on the crucial topic of food  the
production, preparation, and consumption of food, and the customs
and symbolic behavior it entails  for food is an aspect of material
culture that involves everyone every day. Because of its universal,
panhuman nature, food offers a meaningful variable through which we
can compare and contrast cultures, enlightening ourselves with
regard to the world view of others, while learning more about
ourselves in the process. In addition to reading books and articles,
the students would learn about foodways from films, the mainstream
media, including television cooking shows and food magazines, and
from small fieldwork projects in grocery stores, restaurants, and
domestic kitchens.
Class topics will include festival foods, recipes and cookbooks, and
food eating contests. We will consider food as an aspect of
hospitality, including analysis of the profound and formal Japanese
Tea Ceremony. Other topics will include food in religious rituals,
food fads, such as diets, food in ethnic and gender identity, and
even eating disorders. A variety of examples will lead toward an
understanding of the manifold meanings of food, its aesthetic and
sensory aspects, the social dimensions of preparation and
consumption, and food in relation to social class, ethnic and
regional identities in the United States, Latin America, and Asia.
Students will read relevant writings from the disciplines of
Folklore, Anthropology, American Studies, Cultural Geography, and
History.