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MET ML 589: Nature's Past: Histories of Environment and Society
The purpose of this seminar is to examine the ways that historians understand and describe the interactions between humans and their physical world, an interaction that expresses itself in terms of landscapes of vegetation, population, disease, built settings of cities, and cooking as an act of environmental knowledge. Environmental history has its methods defined by the parameters of science and the natural world --flora, fauna, topography, seasons--as well as human elements of technology, demography, and social organization. Cooking and cuisine is at the apex of these interactions. This course will examine the work of key historians in the emerging field of environmental history and the role of food/cooking in that human/nature interaction.
MET ML 610: Special Topics in Gastronomy
ML610 is the designation for "Special Topics in Gastronomy". The subject matter for ML610 courses changes from semester to semester, and more than one ML610 can be offered in a given semester. Course descriptions for all ML610 sections are listed below. For more information, please contact the department Graduate Student Advisor.
Fall 2016 -- Special Topic: "Ethical Eating and the Food Movement"
This course will consider the industrialization of agriculture and the emergence of global food supply chains, and the corresponding efforts to find alternatives, such as sustainable and ethical food consumption, "slow food", "locavores", veganism, "meatless Monday", organic agriculture, community-supported agriculture and many more. Utilizing ethnographies, documentary films, short videos and photographs, the class will explore how issues such as environmental sustainability, globalization, health and social justice are embedded in new food movements, and we will ask if and how ethical eating has become primarily an elite social practice.
Spring 2017 -- ML 610 D1 Special Topic: "Food, Globalizations, and Changing Identities"
If we are what we eat, how do we define our identities in a world increasingly interconnected through globalization? How are identities shifting in the context of both the local and the global? In this course, we will explore the impacts of globalization on foodways and identities using examples from the Middle East, Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America, and investigate the interrelationship between food and changing identities in the context of nationalism, ethnicity, class, gender, and other social categories.
MET ML 611: Archaeology of Food in Ancient Times
How people have obtained and processed a wide range of foods through time, beginning with early humans. Food used by hunter/gatherers; changes in diet and nutrition through time to early farmers. Examines archaeological evidence for types of plants and animals exploited for food, as well as human skeletal evidence for ancient nutrition and diseases related to diet and food stress. Consideration of early historical periods, especially in terms of how certain foods such as wine have played a significant role in culture beyond basic dietary needs.
MET ML 612: Pots and Pans: Material Culture of Food
Exploration of the food cultures and technologies through material culture- pots, pans, and utensils. Course will range broadly across cultures, time, and space with emphasis on medieval and early modern times. Life histories of humble, overlooked, everyday objects associated with food preparation and consumption; kitchens from prehistory to the present; tradition and fashion in cooking & dining vessels; pots and cooking technology; pots as metaphors & symbols.
MET ML 613: Debating Diet
Fat, first of all, is an essential nutrient: our bodies require it. Over the years, notions have changed as to how much fat and what kinds of fat should be consumed. A great variety of fats is found in food. These fats, as ingredients, contribute to the unique tastes and qualities of dishes and may be central to defining a cuisine, e.g., olive oil. Fat is also a component of our bodies; the body produces fat and draws upon it as a reserve of energy. The question of how much bodily fat we ought to have is of concern from the standpoint of medicine and public health, given the association, albeit incomplete, between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Fat contributes both to body shape and body image, and we may try to exert control over the shape of our bodies. Thus, oddly twinned with the obesity epidemic is something of a diet epidemic. These and other issues will be explored through reading, film, class discussion, presentations, and written reports.
MET ML 614: Philosophy of Food
"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are."-- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) In this course, we will use the tools of the philosopher to study various aspects of food--its classification, preparation, consumption, and judgments about the practices affected by it. The focus in this course will be how philosophers contribute to food studies through engagement with long-standing philosophical questions--not just in aesthetics, moral and political philosophy, but also in metaphysics and epistemology. Topics addressed in the class may include foods as natural (or non-natural) kinds; cultural knowledge, know-how and food traditions; eating and identity; eating, rationality and norms; vegetarianism and moral philosophy; and neuroscience, culture and taste.
MET ML 615: Reading and Writing the Food Memoir
Course involves critical reading and writing and examines the food memoir as a literary genre. Students gain familiarity with food memoir, both historical and current; learn how memoir differs from other writing about food and from autobiography; learn to attend to style and voice; consider the use writers make of memory; consider how the personal (story) evokes the larger culture.
MET ML 619: The Science of Food and Cooking
Cooking is chemistry, and it is the chemistry of food that determines the outcome of culinary undertakings. In this course, basic chemical properties of food are explored in the context of modern and traditional cooking techniques. The impact of molecular changes resulting from preparation, cooking, and storage is the focus of academic inquiry. Illustrative, culturally specific culinary techniques are explored through the lens of food science and the food processing industry. Examination of "chemistry-in- the-pan" and sensory analysis techniques will be the focus of hands-on in- class and assigned cooking labs.
MET ML 620: Food and Literature
Through analysis of literary texts, gourmet guidebooks, paintings, and illustrations, the course maps out and examines questions that have an enduring cultural resonance today, including moral concepts of gluttony and temperance; parallels between appetite and sexuality; and the significance of the terroir or local production. Course explores key events and texts that altered the perception of the gourmand and contributed to the development of gastronomy as an autonomous cultural field.
MET ML 621: Researching Food History
This research seminar in food history focuses on the markets and marketplaces over centuries and across a wide geographical area. The focus of this seminar is to hone students? research and writing skills. The broad general topic will allow students to pursue their own special research interest within a larger context while working with others engaged in similar research and writing challenges. By the end of the semester, students will have made a start on conference papers in the field of food studies and indentified potential venues for presenting their work. 4 cr
MET ML 622: History of Food
History is part of a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to food studies. Our goals in reading history include understanding the ways in which the history of food has shaped our world today and examining ways in which contemporary questions and problems inform historical inquiries. Course readings address some of the ways in which food has influenced human history, particularly at crucial turning points -- for example, the rise of the first civilizations and the European discovery of the Americas. We will also study selected past events and societies through the lens of food and foodways. The topics chosen for the course are presented in thematic and geographic categories, rather than in strict chronological order. The themes are divided among three encompassing meta-themes: Technology & Nature, Mobility, and Culture & Cuisine. These meta-themes will help us to move from the details of our specific weekly topics to their meanings in relationship to larger forces in world history. Students will learn about historical methodology and apply it to their own research.
MET ML 625: Wild and Foraged Foods
Humans have been foraging for food since prehistoric times, but the recent interest in wild and foraged foods raises interesting issues about our connection to nature amid the panorama of industrially oriented food systems. From political economy to Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), this course explores how we interact with, perceive, and know our world through the procurement of food. Students take part in foraging activities and hands-on culinary labs in order to engage the senses in thinking about the connections between humans, food, and the environment.
MET ML 630: Cookbooks and History
What can cookbooks and recipes tell us about an individual? A community? A culture? What does the language of the recipe say about systems of knowledge and ways of thinking about the world? The movement of ingredients and food technology? The transmission of cooking knowledge? Does the analysis of historical cookbooks have contemporary applications? In this course, students will consider these questions through a survey of historical cooking texts and in-class exercises. We will examine cookbooks as a source of culinary history and a window into the changing material culture, practices, spaces, and relationships associated with food preparation and consumption. In addition, students will examine cookbooks and recipes as social documents that reveal the presence of social and economic hierarchies, networks and alliances, and political, economic, and religious structures. We will also examine these documents as cultural texts that reveal the construction of ethnic, gendered, and other identities. Students will study and analyze a selection of cookbooks from different historical periods and geographic regions leading to a final project and paper.
MET ML 631: Culture and Cuisine: France
The association between France and fine cuisine seems so "natural." French society and history are intertwined with the culinary, and have been since the court society of the Old Regime. After the French Revolution, French cuisine became a truly modern affair in the public sphere. The invention of the restaurant, the practice of gastronomy, a literature of food, and strong links between French cuisine and national identity all came together in the 19th century. In the 19th and 20th centuries, French food, featuring both haute cuisine and regional culinary specialties, was widely considered the world's best. In the 20th century, the culinary allure of France continued to fascinate people all over the world. It is still said today, enviously, that the French really know how to appreciate good food and wine "la bonne chere" in their daily lives. This course looks at how the history of French culinary culture evolved in the particular way that it did. The course is organized largely chronologically, but not entirely, as some of the readings weave issues of different times periods thematically. In studying culture and cuisine, with France as a great example, we will explore the relationship between a place, a people, and their foodways. We launch our investigation with the question: how and why is this relationship distinctive in France?
MET ML 632: History of Wine
In this course we explore the long and complex role wine has played in the history of human civilization. We survey significant developments in the production, distribution, consumption and cultural uses of grape-based alcoholic beverages in the West. We study the economic impact of wine production and consumption from the ancient Near East through the Roman Empire, Europe in the Middle Ages and especially wine's significance in the modern and contemporary world. Particular focus is on wine as a religious symbol, a symbol of status, an object of trade and a consumer beverage in the last few hundred years.
MET ML 633: Readings in Food History
A comparative perspective on issues of human subsistence through time. Changing patterns of nutrition and health, agricultural production, methods of coping with famine and organizing feasts, and origins and impact of culinary and dietary innovations.
MET ML 636: Culture and Cuisine: Italy
There is no such thing as Italian food. This statement is confirmed by the uniqueness and locality of the foods of Italy. This course will introduce students to regional Italian foods, taking into account geography, historical factors, social mores and language. There will be an emphasis on identifying key food ingredients of northern, central, and southern regions, and how they define these regions and are utilized in classic recipes. In addition, the goal will be to differentiate the various regional cooking styles like casalinga cooking versus alta cucina cooking.
MET ML 638: Culture and Cuisine: New England
How are the foodways of New England's inhabitants, past and present, intertwined with the history and culture of this region? In this course, students will have the opportunity to examine the cultural uses and meanings of foods and foodways in New England using historical, archaeological, oral, and material evidence. We will focus on key cultural, religious and political movements that have affected foodways in the region, as well as the movement of people.
MET ML 641: Anthropology of Food
What can food tell us about human culture and social organization? Food offers us many opportunities to explore the ways in which humans go about their daily lives from breaking bread at the family table, haggling over the price of meat at the market to worrying about having enough to eat. Food can also tell us about larger social organizations and global interconnections through products like Spam that are traded around the globe and the ways in which a fruit like the tomato transformed the culinary culture of European nations. In this course we will consider how the Anthropology of Food has developed as a subfield of Cultural Anthropology. We will also look at the various methodologies and theoretical frameworks used by anthropologists to study food and culture. 4 cr.
MET ML 642: Food Ethnography
This course explores what food ethnography is and how food ethnographers work. Students will learn about food ethnography by reading and discussing its methods and by practicing them. Students will write a research design for an ethnographic project on some aspect of Boston?s multifaceted alternative food system, carry out the research, analyze their data, and write up and orally present the results. Students will learn about and use the methods of participant observation, interviews, photography, food mapping, informant documentation, food logs, and others. They will learn about research ethics. They will pay particular attention to the ways that studying food culture presents unique methods and insights.