Spring 2011
Fully Enrolled

SOCS 616
Culture and Cuisine

Finn,John E.

01/24/2011 - 04/29/2011
Monday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 422

We will study cuisine as a way of understanding American popular culture. The culture of food includes such things as the social institution of the restaurant and social practices of dining, the development of home economics and culinary professionalism, cookbooks and food writers (including MFK Fisher, Calvin Trillin, the Sterns, Paula Wolfert, and John Thorne) as a distinctive literary genre, attitudes and beliefs about health and diet, and many other things. Its breadth and centrality to daily life makes cuisine an especially useful way of understanding popular culture and society. In the words of anthropologists Peter Farb and George Armelagos, when we find out "where, when, and with whom...food is eaten, just about everything else can be inferred about the relations among the society's members." Food fashions and trends, for example, reflect larger social inclinations and changing understandings about such things as ethnic diversity, the role of women in society and at home, and assorted philosophies about health, diet (witness fear of food) and religion.

Among the particular topics we shall consider will be how cuisine reflects--and perhaps promotes--ethnic diversity and pluralism. Likewise, we will explore how notions of haute cuisine and regional cuisines contribute to social stratification and geographic identity. In addition, we will want to use the concept of cuisine as a way of understanding changing gender and class roles in the United States. Finally, we will always be concerned with an overarching question: Is there an "American" cuisine? I suspect we will find that this question is just another way of asking: What is America? We shall see that processes of inclusion and exclusion, central to our collective and self-identity, lie at the heart of changing definitions of America and "American" food.

Some of our readings are standard academic fare. But because our concern is with popular culture, our exploration will also range across a wide variety of materials that comprise cultural expression, including letters, diaries and autobiographies, readings in popular journals and newspapers, cookbooks and recipes, and films.

This course is open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Friday, January 28 at 5:00 pm. Please visit our website for a complete list of registration and withdrawal dates for this session.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
SOCS 616 Please note that this is a tentative synopsis and is subject to change. Check back in the coming weeks for a final syllabus!

John Finn (B.A. Nasson College; J.D. Georgetown University; M.A., Ph.D Princeton University; Grande Diplome, French Culinary Institute) is professor of government. He is coauthor, with Kommers and Jacobsohn, of American Constitutional Law: Essays, Cases and Comparative Notes (Rowman, 2004); co-author with Donald P. Kommers of American Constitutional Law: Essays, Cases, and Comparative Notes (West/Wadsworth 1998), and is author of Constitutions in Crisis: Political Violence and the Rule of Law (Oxford University Press, 1991). Click here for more information about John Finn.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 20

Texts to purchase for this course:
Mintz, Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom, Beacon

Counihan/Van Esterik, Food and Culture, Routledge

Fine, Kitchens, California

Inness, Cooking Lessons, Rowman

Owings, Hey Waitress, California

Nestle, Food Politics, 2nd Edition,California

Kamp, United States of Arugula, Clarkston

Flammang, Taste for Civilization, Illinois

Reading materials are available at BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 Broad Street, Middletown 860-685-7323 Order your books online.

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Contact glsinquire@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. 
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