Assignments for Food and Cuisine:

In addition to the class participation and discussion, students will be responsible for several writing and presentation assignments over the course of the semester with a final longer (8-12 pages) research paper due at the end of the term.

The two medium sized writing assignments (4-6 pages each) of the semester will both be accompanied by in class presentations of the same material. The first paper will be a short history of an ingredient or common food item. We will read a couple examples of this sort of history in class, most notably the classic book about sugar and imperialism by Sidney Mintz. Obviously your papers will not be of the same depth as Mintz’s study, but they should attempt to look at the ways in which food can drive historical forces in fundamental ways. Some excellent examples might be cod on the Maine coast, coffee or chocolate, caviar, etc.; other consumables which are not, strictly speaking, food are also possible (eg: tobacco, or perhaps buffalo, which are both food and leather). Every student will give a short – five minute – presentation on their foodstuff sometime during the first half of the semester. Using the feedback of the class, the write-up of the presentations will be due on Friday, February 26.

The second short paper will be a discussion of a cookbook and will describe what the cookbook author is portraying. For this assignment, everyone will present on a single day. Following the presentations we will take a second class day to discuss the place and function of cookbooks more generally and the papers will be due the following Monday, April 12.

Along with these more research oriented papers will go a set of “response” sized papers on particular topics. The very first writing assignment will be a two page thought piece about what “good” food means to you and why. This will be due at the first full class along with a short reading to help with discussion. The second of these short papers will be describing a historical recipe and attempting to address what appeal or interest the dish had for its creator. Finally, a third “response” will be due sometime during the second half of the semester and can be about any of the particular weekly topics chosen in class (or those that I already have planned such as food writing or American cuisine.)

The final research paper is completely open to the individual student and I hope to meet and talk to people one-on-one to both develop the topic and look for appropriate material. I would like the papers to be historically oriented and, if possible, based on historical primary sources, but this is not an absolute restriction. Finally, further information on any of these assignments is available on the website.


Due Date:

Response One: “Good Food”
Tues, Jan. 26
Response Two: Recipe Description
Ingredient Presentation and Paper
Various and
Fri, Feb. 26
Response Three: Choice 5%
Cookbook Presentation and Paper 15%
Tues, April 6 and
Mon, April 12
Final Research Paper
Fri, May 7

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