These indicate something you have to DO or TURN IN.
These indicate something you should be aware of—usually an upcoming assignment or a longer reading—but isn’t anything you need to immediately do.
These indicate something that is important to know, but isn’t time sensitive.
All videos will be posted on the course YouTube channel, and I will post link to them on the schedule page under the appropriate day as they become available. If you want announcements of new videos, please subscribe to the channel. The videos are NOT posted in Canvas itself.
Most days have a “noteworthy” section that lists a few relevant readings on the topic. These are optional! Most have some good ideas that I’ll mention in the videos; others are there just for additional materials and extra credit opportunities. If you spend time with any that seem interesting to you, be sure to mention them in your reflection or quiz so you can get extra credit for that work.
Our task for today is to make sure you know how the course is structured and general expectations.
This will cover the course intro video, the syllabus, and the short Belasco reading.
Just to make sure everyone is connected, and as an informal way of introducing ourselves, please post on the Canvas Discussion Board (should be an obvious link on the left nav bar on the Canvas course page) a brief introduction and one of your most vivid food memories—and why it resonates with you. These should be ~150 words or so. Please REPLY to the previous post (I’ve already put one there as a starter) so that we get one continuous thread—that makes reading through them MUCH easier.
Remember that all work, including the introductory posts, are due at the end of the day they are listed on the syllabus (but really by 9am tomorrow)!
I think this whole course makes more sense when you understand how and why people study food the way they do. So that’s what today is about, complemented by the Haley reading that argues we should resist the urge to romanticize the culinary past as is so often done in food media because: A) it’s never that simple and B) the real history is far more interesting and revealing.
This will cover the Haley reading and video.
The goal for today is to complicate the idea of “American” food through an investigation of national cuisine generally and ways of thinking about it. There are an unusually high number of readings for today, but they are all quite short and offer unique perspectives that are worth thinking about together.
Almost everyone thinks about whether some kind of food or dish is “authentic” from time to time. But what does that really mean? The few readings for today should help us think more carefully notions of authenticity—particularly how it’s paradoxically an entirely superficial way of describing food, but still a very powerful one.
The most common student suggestion from last summer was to have a little more student interaction. So this summer, a few of our reading reflections will take the form of Discussion Board Posts, where you’re invited/expected to respond to a previous post and share your own thoughts on a few questions. How have you thought about it in the past, and why? What new perspectives did you get from the readings? What ways of thinking about authenticity do you find least and most useful?
Your post should show your familiarity with the readings for today AND engage with the earlier post. Be sure you are actually engaging with the post you are replying to (agree/disagree, suggest variations on ideas, ask questions). Please do not just post a regular reading reflection on the Discussion Board.
This quiz covers basics from the readings, but also has a few short answer questions about the various myths and meanings associated with Thanksgiving. How much does Thanksgiving reflect both nationalism (of some people) and marginalization (of other people)?
Corn may be the ultimate American food: We make a LOT of it, most of which is for cheap animal feed so we can have cheap meat. Corn and derived products are essential to processed food to make them cheap, safe, convenient, and readily available It perfectly embodies the application of technology to food and the constant pursuit of innovation.
It’s also a prime example of how much food can change meanings. As you’ll read about, comparing meanings and uses of corn in Native American traditions and early new England settlements with corn production in 20th century–it’s kind of mind blowing what an incredibly transformation it’s been.
Hopefully after the readings for today you’ll think back to our authenticity readings, and how much to these stories complicate the idea there is any authentic dish anywhere, ever.
This quiz covers early food consumption in early America, how food and personal/community/national identity were intertwined (as we see in attitudes about corn) and how meanings of food can be utterly transformed over time.
What did you learn from the readings today? Remember the goal of these reflections is to show your familiarity with the readings—BOTH of them, as they are quite distinct. The more you can describe, the higher your score will be, so you should aim to cover a range of topics that are prominent in the readings. The reading descriptions above might help you identify key themes that are worth elaborating on.
This quiz focuses on instances when AND WHY food traditions were blending together and when they were remaining distinct. It would be useful to think about the differences in tone between HAE and the Barbas article.
Tomorrow you have a slightly longer assignment than the standard reading reflection, both in terms of what you have to write and what you have to do in preparation. There’s a normal amount of reading, but you also need to spend some time with a couple of 19th-century cookbooks. You might want to start working ahead!
Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald, United Tastes: The Making of the First American Cookbook (2: Culinary Tradition), 29–51. This provides a fascinating cultural background of cookbooks and their evolution. Honestly the first few sentences of each paragraph will give you enough background.
Follow the Cookbook Analysis Guide.
Today we look at an interesting early connection between food, health, and technology that still influences our food choices.
This quiz will draw equally from readings and video.
No video for today, so a little longer syllabus introduction than usual: Building off Friday’s video and theme of how dietary and moral advice are frequently intertwined, today we look at how popularization of nutritional science provided the perfect “objective” rationale for telling the working classes (and especially immigrants) how they should eat. As we’ll see, the goal seems to have been as much as about health as it was to encourage immigrants to be more economically efficient, and therefore more moral and more American in their food choices. This topic may seem unique to the early 19th century and immigration, but even in 2022, a healthier body is still often thought of as a “better” body. The health industry is worth a gazillion dollars in part because it’s not just about health!
The idea that we should make decisions on what to eat based on a supposedly objective metric of health has been labelled nutritionism—an ISM like catholocism, totalitarianism—an IDEOLOGY of food and how to eat. There is even an official disorder called orthorexia—wanting to eat “right”. This is often presented as a relatively new (last 40 or 50 years at most) phenomenon, but it actually has a long 120+ year history. It is striking that considering how much culture is very different now, and nutritional knowledge has advanced considerably since ~1900, the idea that we can assess and measure morality through food, diet, and health has persisted remarkably well.
Katherine Turner, How the Other Half Ate (Ch. 1: The Problem of Food), ebook pp. 14–39. [online through UNM] This book gives us excellent background on working-class life in the U.S. around 1900. There is way more detail than we need (but helps ground the analysis in specific examples as I’m always asking you to do), so be sure you’re reading to grasp the big picture of who the working class are, how they eat, and what they value (and don’t) in food.
Charlotte Biltekoff, Eating Right in America (Ch. 2: Scientific Moralization), 13–44. This reading illustrates how early nutritional scientists and social reformers tried to contain and order the chaos of diverse tastes, preferences, and eating habits of all the different people immigrating to the U.S. from the 1880s to the 1920s. The emphasis on dietary habits was a way of creating/maintaining a more consistent societal fabric. In the minds of social reformers, there was too much cultural and culinary diversity; the country needed a standard way of eating to make a stronger and more unified, more civilized bodies of citizens. Note how this is somewhat contrary to the blending/adaptation narrative we’ve read about at times with respect to various food traditions. Biltekoff claims that all dietary advice has a strong moral component to it. I disagree that all dietary advice is necessarily moral, but I would say it USUALLY has a significant moral component, even as we might suppose that the language of science is objective. But we have to remember objective metrics are always subjective in how they are applied and valued.
Just to make sure you’re reading the syllabus and red boxes: You’ll read about Wilbur Atwater and his work on nutrition in the late nineteenth century. But you might wonder why vitamins aren’t discussed in more depth, but (as very briefly mentioned in the article) that’s because they weren’t discovered yet and the nutritive value of food was determined by other variables.
The quiz is on the readings, but I highlight many questions in the video.
As you are all well aware, the Southwest has a pretty amazing mix of foodways. While we’ve read in general terms about blending of food traditions, today is a more specific case study of blending (and not) in our own neck of the woods. Two primary goals: 1) Learn more about the various historical traditions of food in the Southwest; 2) Look in more depth at a specific region as a site of adaptation and resistance to new foods.
Jeffrey M. Pilcher, “Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, New Mex, or Whose Mex? Notes on the Historical Geography of Southwestern Cuisine”. Journal of the Southwest 43.44 (2001): 659-–79. Like many sources we’ve used, there is more detail than we need. But you know how to handle that by this point—read for the big picture!
BASED ON THE READINGS: What does the history of food in the Southwest teach us about food, culture, and identity that we haven’t exactly seen before? Since most of us are in the Southwest and have a history here, it can be easy to accidentally write an opinion piece that isn’t connected to the readings. However much you interject your own opinion (and I hope you will!), please be sure your post addresses the prompt question and draws specifically from the article for today!
Yesterday we looked at the intersection of food traditions in the Southwest, and today we look at food moving out of specific regions. We’ve already covered this a little with our reading on Chinese food in the 19th century, but here focus specifically on diffusion as a general concept and how meanings of food get twisted as food moves around geographies and cultures.
It’s easy to characterize the blending of food traditions simply as everything going into the good ol’ American melting pot. But what do these articles suggest we can learn about American foodways if we look more closely? In other words, how do these articles suggest ideas about diffusion that we haven’t seen before?
Weekends are already busy, but you might want to starting thinking about your Food Blog Analysis.
I find most culinary appropriation conversations to be unhelpfully superficial. It is pointless to debate whether culinary/cultural appropriation actually happens (it does), or whether it’s just some people being overly sensitive (it is), or whether it can be an inadvertent or purposeful tool of marginalization (it can). These are non-debatable facts. What matters for today is how we can learn to think and talk about appropriation in a sufficiently nuanced way that encourages innovation and adaptation in terms of food while simultaneously respecting cultural heritage and meanings.
Use the articles for this week to evaluate a claim we read a few weeks ago: “The difference between adaptation and appropriation is one of privilege–the privilege to control and inevitably whitewash the narrative surrounding a given dish.” Use today’s readings to explain how this statement is both correct AND oversimplified.
This quiz will draw equally from the video and reading for today. Both readings can go overboard with details, but the quiz is concerned only with the big picture of how food is changing in the second half of the 20th century.
If you haven’t already, you might starting working on your Food Blog Analysis due tomorrow. Nothing else due tomorrow (and no readings outside your food blogs), but it’s a slightly longer assignment than the usual reflection.
Think back to the cookbook readings, when we discussed how much you can learn about people, culture, and food from cookbooks. Just like we looked at cookbooks from ~150 years ago to learn about food at the time, what would a historian 150 years from now think American food was from looking at your blogs? Make sure you’re following the Food Blog Analysis Guidelines.
Start drafting your Final Course Reflection (see July 5). These are TECHNICALLY due SATURDAY (the official last day of the 1H summer session), but everyone has some extra time UNTIL MONDAY (July 5) to do their best work. You can of course submit it whenever you’d like.
Keep working on your Final Course Reflection.
Last official day of the class, but you can have the rest of the weekend (+ Monday) to work on your last reflection.
Your FINAL Learning Reflection—over the WHOLE CLASS—needs to be turned in BY THE END OF TODAY. See the Final Course Reflection Guide. I can’t emphasize enough that this SHOULD NOT BE MERELY A SUMMARY of what we’ve covered. Instead, as the instructions explain in more detail, illustrate how your thinking about food has changed over the month, and how your submitted work justifies what you think should be your overall grade for the course.
Make sure to post your Final Course Reflection on the discussion board! If something comes up at the last minute, or you need some time to process an epiphany about the course, email to ask for more time (just let me know what you need and what your plan is).