What does eating have to do with reading? How might we approach a recipe as literature, and a poem as sustenance? In this course, we will read works of literary theory, modernism, and food studies, with an eye to the relationships between the textual, the edible, and the carnal. We will explore the ways in which one’s racial, sexual, and national identities are formed by foodways, or what and how one eats. As a field, food studies has a tendency to sidestep literary texts—in this course we will challenge that tendency, as we will orient our own “food studies” toward selected modernist imaginings and uses of the edible as art. Likely authors include Roland Barthes, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust, and Monique Truong.
The Junior Research Seminar asks students to engage in forms of research, reading, and interpretation vital to the discipline of literary studies. In this course, students will work with primary source and archival material (for example, Penn’s historical cookbooks), practice close and other kinds of reading, examine contexts both literary and historical, and respond to current critical debates. Assignments will include short writing exercises throughout the semester (critical, descriptive, and creative in nature) as well as a longer, 10-15-page final project of the student’s devising.