Schedule of Readings & Assignments

Due dates

All posted assignments are technically “due” on the day they are listed so that we all stay on schedule. An occasional late post is fine. Repeatedly late posts will negatively impact your grade, as your score decreases by one point per day. After a week, you get a zero. The course simply moves too quickly for much flexibility with deadlines.

Video lectures

All video lectures will be posted on the course YouTube channel, and I will link to them on the syllabus as they become available. If you want announcements of new videos, please subscribe to the channel.

Read/watch in order

I list the readings/videos in the order I think it will be most useful to you. Usually, the earlier readings (or videos) introduce some ideas that get elaborated on in later readings. Going out of order can make things much more confusing, but of course you’re free to work through the readings however you wish.

Noteworthy is optional

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. I hope you’ll skim through any that seem interesting to you (and I hope you’ll mention them in your posts so you can get credit for that work).

All non-linked reading assignments are in Zotero

Remember that if there isn’t a direct link to a reading, it’s in our course Zotero library. Instructions are on the syllabus home page under Readings and Books.

Week 1

Jun 7

Course introductions

Our task for today is to make sure you know how the course is structured and general expectations.

  • VIDEO: Course Intro, Syllabus Intro, and Why I like food
  • Warren Belasco, “Why study food?”, from Food: The Key Concepts, 1–13. Note the last couple pages are about eating meat (and seems a bit shaded against it, IMO). But Belasco misses a couple major points when talking about both the benefits and consequences of eating meat. On the quiz for today, plan to articulate what you think he is not addressing—but should—in that section. Hint: Does it have anything to do with his definition of “meat”?

Jun 8

Challenges and Rewards of Food + History

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 the lecture 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. A) It’s never that simple and B) the real history is far more interesting and revealing.

Noteworthy

  • G. J. Fitzgerald and G. M. Petrick, “In Good Taste: Rethinking American History with Our Palates”, Journal of American History 95.2 (2008): 392–404.

Jun 9

National Cuisine & American Food

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!

  • VIDEO: Ideas and questions to keep in mind; first reflection advice
  • HAE, xi–xv. HAE refers to How America Eats as described on the syllabus home page. You can access it for free through UNM Libraries.
  • Mind of Chef: Ed Lee on American Food
  • Alison K. Smith, National Cuisines, from The Oxford Handbook of Food History (2012). You can read more quickly over the long Russia example if you want, as the details don’t much as the general ideas introduced earlier on. But do read the last paragraph! This is definitely the driest of the readings for this week, but it introduces a number of useful concepts to keep in mind as moving through the other readings.
  • Sean Wyer, Italy isn’t Eatalty. The title and conclusion of this article relate the unsurprising point that the cuisine of an entire nation can’t be captured in a giant upscale grocery store. We hardly need to article to explain that to us, but the author makes a number of good points about how to think about national cuisine.
  • Ruth Tobias, Is There Such a Thing as ‘American’ Food?. This article touches on culinary/cultural appropriation, which is a topic we cover in some depth in a few weeks, so focus for no
  • Sidney Mintz, “Eating American”. This is easily the most controversial piece this week, suggesting there is no such thing as American Cuisine. Pay attention to his arguments so you can craft a thoughtful reading reflection for this week.

Jun 10

Authenticity

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 about why we do that and how useful it is. And most importantly, how we can do it more effectively.

Noteworthy

Jun 11 (Fri)

Cuisines of Contact & Thanksgiving

  • NO VIDEO TODAY
  • HAE, 1–10 (from 1: Cuisine of Contact).
  • Janet Siskind, “The Invention of Thanksgiving: A Ritual of American Nationality”, 167–91.
  • First Thanksgiving Menu. This quick read serves two purposes: it’s a nice overview of what food were likely available at the harvest celebration of 1621. And it’s a good example of uncritical food history that focuses entirely on food without much of the historical context (neither in the 1600s or 1900s).

Noteworthy

  • Philip Deloria, “The Invention of Thanksgiving”, New Yorker, 95.37 (November 25, 2019): 70–74.

Week 2

Jun 14

On Cuisines and Corn

  • Overview VIDEO; small changes; quiz tips; why the set of readings for today)
  • HAE, 13–31 (from 1: Cuisine of Contact).
  • Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald, America’s Founding Food (1: This Beautifull Noble Eare), read 4–15 and 45–48 more carefully; skim (but don’t skip) 15–45 on the various dishes. Nothing about particular dishes will be on the quiz, but I will ask why such descriptions are there, so look for those bits in the pages you’re skimming. HINT: It has something to do with how dishes move across cultures (but you’ll want to be able to elaborate on that point in your reply).
  • Michael Pollan, Omnivore’s Dilemma, (Chap. 2: The Farm), 32–56. The point of this reading (it’s the fastest read for today) is to get a sense of the commoditization of corn and why it’s so cheap now. And to compare the meaning of corn as discussed in the other readings with how it’s portrayed in this chapter.

Noteworthy

  • Erick Castellanos and Sarah Bergstresser, “The Mexican and Transnational Lives of Corn: Technological, Political, Edible Object”, in Edible Identities (ed. Broulotte and Di Giovine), Taylor & Francis (2016), 201–216.
  • Ever wonder what tassles are for? This explains the reproduction and maturity of dent corn, the most common kind of corn grown in the US, mostly for animal feed. The corn on the cob you like slathered with butter is sweet corn, and it reproduces the same way, but loses less moisture and is, as you might guess, sweeter. The other kind of corn you like to eat is popcorn, which has a non-porous hull. If you heat the kernel, the water in the kernel turns to steam, expands, and turns inside out really slowly, so you can munch on the starchy interior.

Jun 15

Early America, Early Food, Cookbooks, and National Identity

  • NO VIDEO
  • HAE, 33–55 (2: Food and the Founding). Continuing our emphasis on food and identity, this chapter covers how food was central to shaping early American identity. Both this chapter and the other reading emphaize the importance of capitalist markets, food production, and the development of cookbooks as a way of cultivating an American cuisine (and identity).
  • Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald, America’s Founding Food (4: Cookbooks and Commerce), 120–147. Even though not clearly marked, there are really two distinct parts to this reading. The first part (to 129) is very helpful in understanding capitalist logic of food production in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The second part shows how early cookbooks start reflect the cultural changes underway during that time. Both complement the HAE reading with considerable more detail about the role of women in managing food, the household, and shaping American foodways. Pay attention to the SECTION HEADINGS! The reading is a bit dry and it can be easy to loose track of the main points, but if you keep relating the paragraphs and ideas back to the section headings, things will make more sense.

Noteworthy

  • James E. McWilliams, “‘How Unripe We Are’”, Food, Culture & Society 8.2 (2005): 143–60.

Jun 16

Cookbooks as historical sources

Noteworthy

  • Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, “Cookbook as Resources for Social History”. This chapter very nicely sketches out, with many diverse examples, how cookbooks function as windows onto history, including how and why they were used in the world.
  • 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.
  • Harry Haff, The Founders of American Cuisine: Seven Cookbook Authors, with Historical Recipes (2: Amelia Simmons), 21–33. Note in particular how the author analyzes Simmons’s cookbook. This is what you’ll be doing for your assignment.
  • Colleen Cotter, “Claiming a Piece of the Pie”, 51–68.
  • Jane C. Busch, “Using Cookbooks as Research Documents”, 22–25.

Some cookbooks mentioned in the readings

Jun 17

  • NO VIDEO
  • NO NEW READINGS for today!

Jun 18 (Fri)

Health, Technology, and Cereal

Not much reading today, but an interesting early connection between health and technology that still influences our food choices.

  • HAE, 143–55 (6: Pious and Patriotic Stomach).
  • VIDEO: Cereal, Health, Technology, Nature. Sorry again for the long delay with this and the quiz! As I’m publishing the video, I see Learn is now unavailable as I’m trying to publish the quiz. When it rains, it pours! As soon as I can get into Learn, I will make the quiz available (I try to publish quizzes after the videos to make sure I don’t have questions that got edited out).

Noteworthy

Week 3

Jun 21

Expansion + Immigration

Noteworthy

  • Donna R. Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat (Food Fights and American Values), 122–48.
  • Helen Zoe Veit, Modern Food, Moral Food (6: Americanizing the American Diet), 123–56.

Jun 22

Culinary Diffusion

  • NO VIDEO
  • Katherine Massoth, “‘Mexican Cookery that Belongs to the United States’: Evolving Boundaries of Whiteness in New Mexican Kitchens”, in Food Across Borders (ed. Garcia, DuPuis, and Mitchell), 44–59.

Noteworthy

  • Amy Bentley, “From Culinary Other to Mainstream America: Meanings and Uses of Southwestern Cuisine”, in Culinary Tourism (ed. Lucy M. Long), University Press of Kentucky (2013), 209–223.
  • 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.

Jun 23

Scientific Moralization

Today’s topic builds directly off the lecture from last week on cereal and the coupling of moral and dietary advice—and how that continued even as the science of nutrition developed in the later 1800s and early 1900s. Nutrition provided the perfect scientific cover for telling immigrants how they should eat and be more American in their food and moral choices. This is obviously building on our recent readings on immigration and culinary diffusion as well.

Jun 24

Culinary Appropriation

Noteworthy

Jun 25 (Fri)

Gendered Cooking

  • NO VIDEO
  • HAE, 111–113; 124–141 (parts of 5: Gender and the American Appetite).
  • Katherine J. Parkin, Food Is Love : Advertising and Gender Roles in Modern America, 1–11 (Introduction).
  • Why there are no great women chefs

Noteworthy

Week 4

Jun 28

No video or new reading for today! Food Blog Analysis is due.

Jun 29

Technology and Industry of Meat

  • BRIEF INTRO VIDEO (geared toward helping with the quiz based on the reading)
  • Joshua Specht, The price of plenty: how beef changed America
  • Emeyln Rude, Tastes like Chicken, 6–11; 27–39; 130–134; 141–160; 181–192. Sorry for all the partial sections here; the PDF is just the pages you need to read. The book tends to go off on lots of cool tangents, so we skip around to stay on topic. This looks like a crazy amount of reading, but the physical pages and number of words on them are quite small, and many pages are recipes that you can skip over. It goes by really fast, and it’s a fun non-academic read.

Jun 30

Natural Diets

  • VIDEO: Natural food, technology, nature, cost
  • No required readings for today, but skimming through the noteworthy stuff would be useful. Many ideological choices are reflected in how people eat or avoid meat. Some discussions about meat focus on the morality of eating other animals, some on potential health advantages, some on environmental impact. One can make moral arguments either way, or find “scientific” studies supporting just about any position, but often the decision comes down to whether one thinks eating meat is natural or not. Building on the history from yesterday, this lecture looks at the history of what constitutes a natural diet, including eating meat. The point isn’t to say it’s right or wrong (I have my opinion; you have yours), but to see how constructions of naturalness can be powerful influencers of food choice and debates.

Noteworthy for lecture (but not required reading)

Jul 1

Wrapping up

  • David Foster Wallace, “Consider the Lobster”. READ THE FOOTNOTES, which make some of the best points of the article! You can skim over the lobster biology bits if you want, but keep thinking about the larger point he’s trying to make with his piece.
  • VIDEO: Final wrap-up. This final lecture will highlight some of the key themes and ideas that I hope stick with you long after the course and to jump start your thinking on your Final Course Reflection (see July 3).

WORD TO THE WISE: Start drafting your Final Course Reflection (see July 3). These are TECHNICALLY due SATURDAY (the official last day of the 1H period), but everyone has some extra time UNTIL MONDAY (July 5) to make it nice. You can of course submit it whenever you’d like.

July 2 (Friday)

NOTHING. Just, like, nothing. Work on your finals! Ask questions! Catch up with any work you intend to submit.

July 3 (Saturday)

Your FINAL Learning Reflection—over the WHOLE CLASS—is officially due today (the last official day of the 1H session.) However, feel free to revise and submit it MONDAY. 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.