Examine the active role played by food in shaping identity (and difference) by analyzing how identification processes unfold and how identities are articulated throughout the food system. We first address essential debates about food and identity in the social scientific literature and devise a working understanding of the basic concepts, actors and geographical scales. We then investigate identities constructed through food from a comparative perspective by exploring key periods in the history of Italy from Ancient Rome to the present. A wide range of primary sources (e.g. recipes, menus, cookbooks, dietary advice, agricultural and medical treatises, religious texts, advertisements) are critically analyzed in class, giving you the opportunity to directly test hypotheses and assess the multiple factors that shape identities. The topics addressed in this way involve political events and ideas, social distinctions and economic inequalities, migration and cultural exchanges, religion and rituals, science and technology, health and diet, and gender and the body. Finally, in-class discussions, interactive lectures, hands-on activities, ethnographic assignments, site visits in Florence and a field trip in Tuscany enable students to grasp how the various topics interact and how the study of food can shed new light on our understanding of culture and society in Italy and beyond.
Registration restriction: Students may not register for both this course and NSD 452 – Mediterranean Food and Culture.
Course fee: Covers a day trip to Strada in Chianti, cooking class supplies and Florence site visits (2023-24 course fee = $165).
Semesters: Fall, Spring