Honors | Book Bites: Food and Literature (CMLT)
C200 | 12290 | Vivian Halloran


TuTh 4:00-5:15pm

In this course, we will read examples of influential food writing
from the nineteenth century until today to learn more about how
people use food to express their needs, desires and particular
predilections.  By juxtaposing texts from multiple genres—
philosophy, memoir, novel, food reviews, and journalistic exposé—and
from various countries—France, Scotland, Greece, India, Cuba,
Barbados, and the United States—this course asks you to appreciate
the wide impact that food has on how people see themselves, their
relationship to each other and to their environment.  Our survey
begins by looking at the origins of gastronomy as outlined by Jean-
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in The Physiology of Taste and later put
into practice by Alex Kapranos, the lead singer of the band Franz
Ferdinand in Sound Bites.  Next, we take a historical look at the
importance of food safety in American culture by Anthony Bourdain’s
gritty history of Typhoid Mary and how she spread this disease
through her cooking practices, and following that up with Eric
Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation.  As a corrective to this bleak view of
the American diet, we then delve into three culinary memoirs that
thematize how immigration patterns into the United States refine and
enhance the evolving national palate:  Austin Clarke’s Pig Tails ‘n
Breadfruit, Viviana Carballo’s Havana Salsa, and Shoba Narayan’s
Monsoon Diary.  Finally, we consider how agriculture and cooking
help people overcome cultural differences in Anita Desai’s Fasting,
Feasting and Ruth Ozeki’s All Over Creation.  This class carries A&H
and Intensive Writing credit. Assignments will include four short,
formal essays and a revision.