Food, Culture, and Identity

In this seminar we will use cuisine as a way of understanding american popular culture. In a broad sense, cuisine—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 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. Some of our readings will be 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. Each student will have an opportunity to prepare a short project or presentation on a topic to be chosen in consultation with the professor.

Instructor: John Finn

Six Tuesdays:
6:00–7:30 p.m. in Albritton, room 311
October 5, 12, 19, 26; November 2, 9
John Finn

John Finn is professor of government at Wesleyan. he has taught at Wesleyan since 1986; his research focuses on constitutional theory, the legal regulation of terrorism and political violence, and cuisine and popular culture.