This is the home page of the course syllabus, which outlines all the instructions, logistics, and expectations for the course. The syllabus also has a schedule page, which details the reading and writing assignments for each day. Make sure you are ENTIRELY familiar with these two pages. We use Canvas to manage assignments and grading, but all course information is on these two pages. Note that the syllabus is not in Canvas itself, although there is a link to it.
When you think of Mexican food, or Italian, or Chinese, a range of dishes and ingredients immediately spring to mind. But what about American food? Is there such a thing? Does this concept even make sense?
This course explores both historical and contemporary ways of thinking about ‘American’ food and the relationship between food and identity. We look at the changing meanings of food and foodways throughout US history, particularly how people have attached cultural values to certain foods yet rejected others, and how foodways are so frequently an expression of personal, community, and national values.
While the history of food in the U.S. runs throughout the course, the main goal is to see how much fun we can have exploring different perspectives on how we use food as means of self-expression. The history is really a means to an end: to think more critically about meanings of food in the present.
Learning objectives are pretty standard for syllabi, so much so that they can become meaningless. But I think they are very important, and I want to be sure THEY ARE CLEARLY VISIBLE. Literally everything we do in this class works toward one or more of these goals.
Readings and Bookssection below has all the details. It will take less than 5 minutes to get set up with it.
As an upper level history course compressed into a month, this class is meant to be a challenge. But I do recognize that it’s summer, that we’re still recovering from this past year, and that we all have busy lives outside of class even when not (still) amidst a pandemic. AND YET: We can work hard and learn a lot together without taking ourselves too seriously.
Not having actual class meetings deprives us of some collegial conversation and debate, but it presents new freedoms as well. There isn’t much to do most days except do the reading, think about it, and take a short quiz or write a brief reading reflection. There are two slightly longer reflections and a final reflection so that you can show off what you’re learning from the course as a whole.
The little equations after the assignment type indicates
number of assignments x
points for each =
Whatever the exact number of points we end up with, your grade is determined by percent, as indicated below. You can always see at any point exactly what your grade is in Canvas.
Ideally, all quizzes or discussion board posts will be submitted via Canvas by the time you go to bed on the day they are listed. However, previous students have found it helpful to have a grace period to accommodate work or family schedules, or the chance to draft something in the evening and revise it in the morning. So assignments are absolutely due by 9AM the DAY AFTER they are listed. Find whatever timing works for your schedule and stick with it.
All work submitted late will be docked 1 point per day. If not submitted before the following Monday (meaning you have the weekend to get caught up), you get a permanent ZERO for the assignment. This is my attempt at striking a balance between flexibility and preventing disaster—the class moves so fast that falling behind even a little can quickly spiral out of control. Submitting an assignment late is FAR BETTER than not at all.
There are two TAs for the course who help with scoring submitted work and providing some feedback on your assignments. But in a ~50-person class with work due most days, we’re not going to be able to provide substantive comments to everyone for every assignment. If you ever want more feedback, PLEASE EMAIL ME and ask for it. I will be more than happy to write or chat with you about course material or how you’re doing in the course.
Some of you just want a C to fulfill a UNM requirement. Some of you want a B to maintain a solid GPA. Some of you want an A because top grades are really important to you. Put in the work that justifies the grade you want for each assignment, and if you’re not getting the scores you want, LET ME KNOW. Usually a few minor tweaks go a long way towards improving your scores. Please know I want to do everything I can to ensure that the work you’re putting in matches the grade you want.
If life gets overwhelming during the course (and something will come up over the month!), it’s easy to miss a few assignment and feel you’re hopelessly behind. Rather than assume the worst, let’s talk about how we can accommodate your circumstances, including shifting deadlines, figuring out a target grade that you can meet with reduced assignments, switching to CR/NC grade mode, taking an Incomplete to buy a little extra time, etc. Please get in touch and let me know what would help you!
On all quizzes and assignments, the goal is to show how much you learned from the reading(s). I try to highlight what I think are the most important points in the questions themselves, but there’s lots of cool stuff to learn. Writing more than the question requires, if clearly informed by the readings, will usually get you extra credit points for that question. If you’re really into a topic and have a little extra time for an assignment, it’s an easy way to make sure you’re on track for the grade you want. These add up quickly!
If you are worried you are falling just short of a grade you’re aiming for, there is an easy way to ensure you get it! Do a Food Documentary Critique (worth up to 10 points). WARNING: This critique assignment is EXTRA. You can do this ONLY if all other work is turned in on time. This should be emailed to me directly by July 5 (when all course work is due).
All course materials are provided at no cost. You will NEVER have to find anything on your own. I’m always amazed at how many students don’t know this by the time they take the syllabus quiz. Don’t be one of them! All readings not already online are accessible through a tool called Zotero. Follow the below instructions to get connected and access the course readings.
If you don’t have one already, sign up for a free account at zotero.org. Creating a Zotero account requires only that you specify a username, password, and email address. You will not get any spam from Zotero or anyone else because of your Zotero account. Use your UNM email address!!!!!
You should see your username or a “Log Out” link on the top nav bar. If you see a “Log In” link, you need to log in. Pretty straightforward.
Visit our Zotero Group homepage, and click the red “Join” button off to the right, which will send an email to me. As soon as I see it (usually within the hour unless you’re doing it late at night), I’ll approve your request to join the group. There is nothing else you need to do at this point.
Once you’ve completed the steps above, and I’ve approved your request to join our library, you can access our course readings most easily via our Group Library page. Double-clicking an item brings up a PDF of the article or chapter. Again, EVERYTHING you need that isn’t already online is available via our Zotero group library.
A few items in our Zotero library have more than one PDF attached to them. If you’re getting the wrong chapter when double-clicking at item: Single click on the item to select it, then click the “Attachments” tab near the upper right of the page. You’ll see links to all PDFs for that item and you can select the PDF you need and click the icon to open it.
In addition to separate articles and book chapters, we have one sort of free, online textbook that we use to provide useful overview:
If you peek at the reading schedule page, you might think there is a lot of reading. You’re right! Naturally, as an intensive 1H summer humanities course, there is a fair amount of reading. This is unavoidable because I respect the challenges and demands of a compressed four-week course that provides a rigorous learning experience. The workload is comparable to any average 1H upper-level humanities course, whether in person or online, but is obviously more intense than a regular full semester course.
Almost all readings are meant for a broad (largely non-academic) audience and therefore are relatively quick reads. At the same time, most are smart, articulate, and give us plenty to talk about, especially as we put them in conversation with each other, and how they tell very different stories of American Food. For almost everything we read, we’re reading to ENGAGE with it, not because it’s right. There is a LOT to disagree with across the readings, and we don’t all have to agree on anything.
True literacy is not just understanding words and sentences. It’s being able to read relatively quickly, think critically about what you read, and take away something useful from it (or decide you don’t need to). That’s one of the things we’re deliberately practicing in this course.
You cannot possibly read every word, or every page, or master all the ideas, and that’s just fine. I expect you to gain a familiarity across all the readings so that you can write a thoughtful response about them. Because we’re covering so much ground so quickly, broad familiarity is far more important than specific details.
Please ask for help in understanding and avoiding plagiarism (passing the work or words of others off as your own) or other forms academic dishonesty. Doing something dishonest in a class or on an assignment can lead to serious academic consequences, including failing grades and expulsion from the University. Come talk with me about your concerns or needs for academic flexibility or talk with support staff at one of our student resource centers before you do something that may endanger your ability to complete your degree.