English R1A

Reading & Composition: Taste Matters

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
18 Fall 2012 Taylor, Bradford Alden
TTh 3:30-5 222 Wheeler

Book List

Keats, John: The Complete Poems; Stein, Gertrude: Tender Buttons; Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray; Woolf, Virginia: To the Lighthouse

Other Readings and Media


Luis Buñuel, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

A course reader, including:

             David Hume, “Of the Standard of Taste”

William Hazlitt, “On Gusto”

Jean Brillat-Savarin, excerpts from The Physiology of Taste

Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market

Franz Kafka, The Hunger Artist

Pierre Bourdieu, “Taste of Luxury, Taste of Necessity”

Carolyn Korsmeyer, “The Meaning of Taste and the Taste of Meaning”

Michael Pollan, excerpts from The Omnivore’s Dilemma


What do we mean when we say that someone has “good taste” or a “cultured palate”? What makes a joke “tasteless” or a film “disgusting”? The concept of taste plays a role in our daily activities (“What’s for lunch?”), but it is also a term deployed in the highest realms of aesthetic appreciation (“Is this art?”). Taste cuts across literature, philosophy, cultural studies and gastronomy. Our readings will be varied accordingly.

Taste is also a deeply subjective and personal sense. We will, therefore, work to refine our descriptive and expository writing skills, learning how to convey personal experiences and interpretations clearly and persuasively. The course will also include a tasting at Blue Bottle Coffee Roasters in Oakland.

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