Higher education tuition costs and student loan debt have increased proportionally with the sheer worthlessness of a college education. Students were paradoxically far more likely to learn something worthwhile when higher ed was for dilettantes, than now when it’s a mandatory job prerequisite.
A surprising number of universities have gone in this direction. The New School has an undergraduate program in food studies, while several offer master’s level programs: Chatham University, New York University, Boston University (a graduate certificate); and New Mexico State University (a graduate-level minor).
Food studies concerns do go beyond food, Professor White acknowledged in an interview in an Atlanta alternative weekly newspaper that ranged into the areas of Southern culture, racism, and Paula Deen. The study of popular culture figures and racism, of course, have long been edging out the traditional subjects on our campuses.
You can find the mania over food studies in many states, including North Carolina. At UNC-Chapel Hill, students in the Department of Geography can take “Critical Food Studies,” and others can develop interdisciplinary programs that incorporate courses such as “Food in American Culture” provided through the department of American Studies.
The effort for a food studies minor began with nine faculty members applying for and receiving a Mellon grant, White told me. After expected approval at the April curriculum committee meeting, courses should be available in the fall semester in several departments, including economics. A biologist and Chinese language expert will jointly offer a course that explores the development of Chinese cuisine, and the role of lactose intolerance. In the English department a course will investigate food imagery in Toni Morrison’s novels.
Political correctness, food and pointless American Studies navel gazing… in one course. Somehow I’m entirely confident that the discussion will be largely about white ‘othering’ of African-American foods.
This is what you’re paying $40k for. What used to be the topic of a particularly desperate English paper is now a course.
Food studies has made its way even down to freshman composition. Apparently responding to market demand, the textbook publisher Bedford is offering Food Matters with a sample syllabus and recommended “resources” for an entire semester devoted to food studies.
Why not an entire university that turns Liberal Arts into a food centric academic setting?
…as indicated by such chapters as “Eating Authentically” and “The Culinary Other.” They state that “foodies” can appreciate the “peasant cook,” the street vendor, and the master chef. Food studies have become part of the agenda of social justice and multiculturalism, which have come to infiltrate much of the humanities.
The culinary other. This is what leftist intellectualism has come down to. It can’t even be described as pathetic.
There is not much “contesting” among the essays in the book, however. All seem to harp on political themes relating to food: “Doberge Cake after Katrina,” by Amy Cyrex Sins, and “Equality for Animals,” by Peter Singer, Princeton bioethics professor. Bedford also includes an excerpt from Michelle Obama’s book, American Grown: The Story of One White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Pyramid and Food Plate Nutrition Guidelines.
Will there be any Denny’s place mats to study? We could do a whole semester on the semiotics of menus, what they state and what they leave out and how they other.
And, finally, the Food Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association will hold several panels at its meeting, mostly on political topics, like “Food, Debt, and the Anti-Capitalist Imagination” and “How the Other Half Eats: Race and Food Reform from the Slaughterhouse to the White House.”
The American Studies Association, recently familiar from their illegal boycott of Israel, has been a major player in trashing academia and replacing already dubious subjects with complete garbage.
Other topics from the ASA’s Food Studies Caucus are…
The Good, The Bad, The Unforgivable: Black Women’s Food Work as Spaces of Dissent and Strategic Acquiescence
Pedagogies of Food and Eating: Teaching Debt, Dissent, and Identity through Food
Archives of Domesticity and Dissent: Cookbooks, Cooking Culture, and the Limits of Culinary Exchange
And then there’s a journal and even a caucus meeting.
Food Studies Caucus Annual Reception/networking event. At such an event scholars of food will be able to meet other scholars doing similar work. I envision this being a more low key event, with perhaps some light food and an open/cash bar. (If we need to raise funding for such an event we could possibly require preregistration and charge a small fee per person, say $10 to cover the cost of food).
But… what are the politics of a cash bar? Has he considered how he is othering heavy food?