Monday, October 17, 2011

Food Classes for Spring 2012

With the opening of advance registration, the rush to find those interesting and obscure classes to pad your schedule has begun. In honor of foodies all across Penn, I have compile a succinct list of food-related classes for the following semester:

Photo courtesy of Boy_Wonder on flickr
Metropolitan Food Systems
Dominic Vitiello
This course introduces students to the planning and development of metropolitan food systems. Major topics include regional planning and policy; sustainable agriculture; food access and distribution; and markets. The class includes a mix of lectures, discussion, and field trips; and students will work on real-world projects in Philadelphia. Ultimately, the course aims to develop students' broad knowledge of food systems planning in the global North and South, with an emphasis on community and economic development strategies for sustainable food systems and food security.

Food and Feasting:
Archaeology of the Table

Katherine M. Moore

Food satisfies human needs on many levels. Anth 248 explores the importance of food in human experience, starting with the nutritional and ecological aspects of food choice and going on to focus on to the social and ritual significance of foods and feasts. Particular attention will be paid to the way that archaeologists and biological anthropologists find out about food use in the past. Contemporary observations about the central significance of eating as a social activity will be linked to the development of cuisines, economies, and civilizations in ancient times. The course will use lectures, discussions, films, food tastings, and fieldwork to explore the course themes. An optional community service component will be outlined the first week of class.

Food Habits in Philadelphia Communities: Exploring Eating and Changing Food Habits in Philadelphia Middle Schools

Jane Kauer

Academically Based Community Service Class
In this course, Penn Undergraduates will explore and examine food habits, the intersection of culture, family, history, and the various meanings of food and eating, by working with a middle-school class in the Philadelphia public schools. The goal of the course will be to learn about the food habits of a diverse local community, to explore that community's history of food and eating, and to consider ways and means for understanding and changing food habits. Middle school students will learn about the food environment and about why culture matters when we talk about food. Topics include traditional and modern foodways, ethnic cuisine in America, food preferences, and 'American cuisine'. The course integrates classroom work about food culture and anthropological practice with frequent trips to middle school where undergraduates will collaborate with students, their teachers, and a teacher partner from the Agatson Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI). Undergraduates will be responsible for weekly writing assignments responding to learning experience in the course, for preparing materials to use middle school children, being participant-learners with the middle school children, and for a final research project. The material for the course will address the ideas underlying university-community engagement, the relationships that exist between food/eating and culture, and research methods.

The Biology of Food
Richard Scott Poethig
Living World Sector
This course will examine the ways in which humans manipulate - and have been manipulated by - the organisms we depend on for food, with particular emphasis on the biological factors that influence this interaction. The first part of the course will cover the biology, genetics, evolution, and breeding of cultivated plants and animals; the second part will concern the ways in which food/plants can cause and cure human disease.

Food in the Islamic Middle East: History, Memory, Identity
Heather Sharkey
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
In the tenth century, a scholar named Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq produced an Arabic manuscript called Kitab al-Tabikh ("The Book of Cooking".) This volume, which compiled and discussed the recipes of eighth-and ninth-century Islamic rulers (caliphs) and their courts in Iraq, represents the oldest known surviving cookbook of the Arab-Islamic world. Many more such cookbooks followed; in their day they represented an important literary genre among cultured elites. As one food historian recently noted, "there are more cookbooks in Arabic from before 1400 than in the rest of the world's languages put together". This course will take the study of Ibn Sayyar's cookbook as its starting point for examining the cultural dynamics of food in the Middle East across the sweep of the Islamic era, into the modern period, and until the present day. It will use the historical study of food and "foodways" as lens for examining subjects that relate to a wide array of fields and interests. These subjects include politics, economics, agricultural and environmental studies, anthropology, literature, religion, and public health. With regard to the modern era, the course will pay close attention to the social consequences of food in shaping memories and identities - including religious, ethnic, national, and gender-based identities - particularly among people who have dispersed or or otherwise migrated.
(Editor's note: Please, don't all sign up for this class. I'm trying to get in it!)

Writing Seminar: Global Foodways
Durba Chattaraj
(Editor's note: No syllabus has been posted, but I took Durba Chattaraj's writing seminar last year on the globalization of Indian cuisine, and it was excellent.)

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