Polenta or grits? Spaghetti or udon? Pancakes, crepes, or galettes? Biscuits, cornbread, tortillas or sourdough? Regardless of what we call them, individual ingredients, recipes, and food choices tell stories of race, class, ethnicity, gender, and region in the United States. Thanksgiving dinner at grandma’s house, fast food from the drive-through, a slow food meal harvested from the community garden, or five-star haute cuisine at this month’s hippest restaurant? Where we eat, how much we pay for it, and who labors to create it tell us about capital, nation, and connections between global and local economies.
This curated exhibit of ca. 170 mini essays explores diverse American food cultures from a humanities perspective. We have based our scholarship in the new field of food studies on our examination of cookbooks, novels, poetry, photographs, songs, films, television programs, and oral histories to investigate the past and present of American food communities.
Over the course of the semester, we have examined cultural identity through food, recognizing the contributions of diverse people, including people of American Indian, African, Latinx, Asian, and European descent. We considered the uses, meanings, and insights of foodways in all its complexity through a multi-disciplinary conversation about the United States that considers art, archaeology, architecture, cultural tourism, ecology, folklife, geography, history, language, literature, material culture, myth and manners, music, politics, religion, values, and more.
Teaching team: Dr. Elizabeth Engelhardt + Michael Bramwell (TA) and Melissa Dollman (TA)