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The Ties that Bind: Food and Culture

ENGL 135.302
instructor(s):
Monday 2-5:00pm

Food is so much more than what we eat. It’s a metaphor, a memento, a ritual, an art. It’s a window into community, comfort and love, justice and injustice, joy and obsession. In this writing workshop, we’ll explore the power of connection and community through the prismatic lens of food. You will enlist the creative nonfiction (CNF) genres of memoir and personal essay to explore the human condition, turning your lens both inward (e.g., personal essay, memoir) and outward (e.g., narrative nonfiction, feature story, profile) as you look at how ties of sustenance bind us to each other.

Settings for the memoir/essay assignment might include the mess hall at camp, the Thanksgiving table, the one thing your grandfather knew how to cook. For the outward lens, you’ll connect with a food- related person, group, or business here in Philadelphia—this might be a close look at food insecurity in the city, a profile of a school cafeteria worker, undocumented workers in the restaurant world, the culture of a food coop, professional foragers, the pizza shop that gives away slices to homeless people, a gluten- free bakery, urban farming initiatives, or the inexplicable popularity of Wawa shorties.

CNF calls on the literary techniques of fiction (including character, scene-setting, plot, dialogue, description, structure, narrative/thematic tension, pacing, chronology, point of view, imagery, and metaphor) and the reporting strategies of journalism (interviewing, fact-checking, research). You will write and revise two longer pieces (1500-2500 words each) and several shorter ones. Through assignments, exercises, critiques and reading discussions, expect to become a stronger writer, a better reader, and an enthusiastic reviser.