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Italian History on the Table

ENGL 204.401
crosslisted as: ITAL 206
MW 2-3:30pm

“Mangia, mangia!” is an expression commonly associated with the American stereotype of Italians, whose cuisine is popular throughout the world. But is the perceived Italian love of food the same in the United States and in Italy? Is it an issue of quantity or quality? Of socioeconomics, politics, education, health …? Global, local or maybe, glocal? In this course, we will explore the role of food in Italian culture and in the shaping of the Italic identity, in Italy and abroad since antiquity. We will trace its evolution through literary documents, works of art, music and film, as well as family recipes and cooking tools; from ancient Rome to Dante and Boccaccio, to Stanley Tucci’s Big Night; from court banquets to food trucks that, while always a feature at Italian fairs and open air markets, are now being “Americanized” under the influence of American cooking shows on Italian television.

 

This course will be taught in English. It is an OBL (Object Based Learning) Course and will include class visits, in person and/or virtual, to the Penn Museum and to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. It counts also as a credit for the minor in Global Medieval Studies.