English R1B

Reading & Composition: Choice Cuts: Writing about Food

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Session Course Areas
1 Summer 2018 Stevenson, Max
TuWTh 1-3:30 Dwinelle 263 A

Book List

Truong, Monique: The Book of Salt; eds. Gilbert and Porter: Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing; eds. Graff and Birkenstein: They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, 3rd edition

Other Readings and Media

Films: Tampopo; Eat Drink Man Woman

Additional readings will be made available on bCourses.


Our course begins with Terry Eagleton’s assertion that “food looks like an object but is actually a relationship, and the same is true of literary works” and moves to consider that relationship in texts as varied as medieval French fabliaux and twentieth-century Japanese cinema. Authors we will study include Plutarch, Virginia Woolf, M. F. K. Fisher, Michael Pollan, Pu Song Ling, Lord Byron, and many others; the topics we’ll cover range from the ethics of vegetarianism to the politics of cannibalism, from the particular formal difficulty of representing taste in words to hunger’s connection with other carnal desires. In addition to the traditionally literary modes of prose fiction, poetry, and the personal essay, we will also read restaurant reviews, political manifestos, journalistic reportage, and cultural criticism, and will learn to read meals themselves.

Food is our course’s subject, but not its object: as an offering in the University’s Reading and Composition program, the class is primarily designed to teach you to be keen readers and clear writers. While the orientation of R1B towards research means your written work will culminate in formal papers of rigorous argumentation and sound scholarship, cogently expressed, you’ll produce a range of writing over the course, in a range of other, less academic genres.

This course will be taught in Session A, from May 22 to June 28.

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