HIST-LIT 90FM: Tasting Place: Food and Culture in America





Instructor: Rachel Kirby
Meeting time: Thursday, 12:45-2:45 pm

Tasting PlaceWe often associate specific tastes and foods with particular places, memories, and experiences. What would it mean, then, to center taste in our study of place and culture? How can places be tasted, and tastes be placed? In this class, we explore the relationship between taste and place within American culture, discussing how elements of nation, region, and identity are created, absorbed, and imagined through foods and their represented forms. The word “taste” has multiple meanings: taste is used as a synonym for flavor, a verb for the process of eating, and as a marker of socioeconomic class. Together, we examine these various modes of taste in American culture to consider the role of food in relation to regional identity, politics, popular culture, and globalization. We consider a range of methods and theories for studying food, place, and the senses, alongside documentaries, material and visual culture, cookbooks, and Michael Twitty’s book The Cooking Gene. Our studies examine the layers of nostalgia, class, immigration, gender, power, and race that contribute to what and where people eat. By the end of the class, students will be able to employ multisensory approaches to historical and cultural analysis and have the tools to find meaning in seemingly quotidian choices around food and consumption.