winter lit class: blueberries, salt, hash brownies, potatoes


As many of you know, my day job is teaching literature at University of Oregon.  I’m looking for more folks to take my new UO Winter food studies class. How can you go wrong with blueberries, GMO potatoes, a book of salt, and Alice B. Toklas’ famous hash brownies?  If you’re interested and enrolled at UO, please sign up right away. I need to get the numbers up and show our commitment to food studies in the Humanities in the next couple of days.  Open to all UO students, including undergraduates and graduates, and no need to be a Comparative Literature major.  Please pass along to friends.  Thanks!

COLT 461/561.  Studies in Contemporary Theory: “Introduction to Food Studies”.  CRN 28004, TuTh 12-1:20, Jennifer Burns Bright.  This course will focus on recent developments in literary criticism on food and foodways, which can be understood as the social, economic, and cultural practices of people, regions, or historical periods. Course goals include an understanding of foundational texts in the emerging field of Food Studies from a range of disciplines, including sociology, philosophy, environmental studies, and history.

We will explore a collection of theoretical models for analyzing food in four literary texts, critiquing and classifying them for use in literary criticism.  We’ll analyze two contemporaneous works from the 1930s that show very different American responses to the Great Depression and war: an expatriate memoir of modernist Paris in The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book and Living The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing, pioneers of the back-to-the-land movement, which may be more recognizable in its current incarnation of “urban homesteading.”  We’ll also study the metaphorical possibilities of GMOs and hybridization in Ruth Ozeki’s novel, All Over Creation, and global food systems in the diary of Toklas’ and Stein’s fictionalized Vietnamese cook in Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt.  Theoretical texts will most likely include classic pieces from Brillat-Savarin, Mead, Barthes, Lévi-Strauss, Bourdieu, and Mintz, and new perspectives integrating underrepresented and marginalized populations by Pollan, Heldke, Albala, Clark, McMillan, and more.  Guest speakers and archival research opportunities, too!

Coursework will include class community activities building to the successful completion of a research paper, including oral reports on theory, exams, and joint projects.  Graduate students will be responsible for additional reading and a longer paper.

8 thoughts on “winter lit class: blueberries, salt, hash brownies, potatoes

  1. Chelsea 4 January 2014 / 3:14 pm

    Jennifer, this has me wishing once again to be back in Eugene (though I must admit, I don’t wish to be back in a graduate program… happy to be done). I hope you get your numbers up. This sounds like a fantastic class.


  2. Jim Wilcox 6 January 2014 / 9:50 am

    Please contact me as I am writing a piece for public housing on food.


  3. nicky553 8 January 2014 / 3:13 pm

    Jennifer, I wish I could take it! I’m giving a talk on a food-ish topic next week at UO in Rare Books at the library (Wednesday the 15th, 4:45). I’d love to see you.

    Best Anita Guerrini


  4. Ruby Ratz Colette 11 January 2014 / 11:30 am

    Do I have to be enrolled at U of O? If you are making brownies, I strongly suggest you smoke the more expensive hashish and make pot butter from shake.


  5. Ruby Ratz Colette 11 January 2014 / 11:32 am

    PS Jim Wilcox, I have written a brief piece on using food stamps and the food bank effectively. Would be happy to share it; it’s from my own experience.


  6. Jim Wilcox 13 January 2014 / 9:06 am

    please email me. In case you cannot see my email:
    jwilcox (at) hacsa (dot) (two letter abbreviation for United States)


  7. Eugenia 13 January 2014 / 10:26 am

    For those who inquired: no, we’re not making hash/mj brownies in class, before class, or after class. I am one of the only people in the Eugene municipal area who doesn’t like the stuff or, honestly, think pot humor is funny. I think the former is related to the latter, and vice versa. But who am I to stop others from doing their thing?


  8. hollyjeff 2 February 2014 / 7:18 pm

    How did I not know about this class?! I’m a Eugene native and a senior studying PR at U of O and would have loved a class for foodies. Any chance you will offer it in the Spring?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s