Course Description:

This course will cover the history of ideas of taste and choices of cuisine as they affected events and cultural change over the last millennium.  We will also look at the tools historian have used and continue to use to study the history of food. Different societies and historical eras all had their own styles and preferences which helped shape trade links, conquests, global reorganizations and shifts in both aesthetic and material culture.  We will also ask what the study of "high" culture food can tell us about the cultural life of both the past and our own society.  Some cooking will be involved.

European and American history will be the focus, but we will also explore a selection of other global cuisines.  After an introductory week in which we will look at a couple of case studies and discuss some of the basic methods of researching food, we will go through a short survey of the history of various cuisines and their historical settings starting with Ancient Greece and Rome and coming up to the industrialization of food in the nineteenth century.  After Spring Break, we will begin focusing on certain topics – contemporary American food culture, Cuisine and Globalization, and others; some of these topics will be at the discretion of the class and will be flexible.  By the end of the course, students should be able to treat and study not just food production, but the desires and consumption patterns of taste as historical forces that help shape the way the world appears to us today.

Required Texts:
1. Paul H. Freedman, Food (University of California Press, 2007; $39.95).

2. Sidney Wilfred Mintz, Sweetness and power (Penguin Books, 1986; $16.00).

3. Betty Fussell and Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, Masters of American cookery (U of Nebraska Press, 2005; $25.00).

4. Harvey A. Levenstein, Revolution at the table (U. of California Press, 2003; $24.95).

Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM