Calendar

LEC # TOPICS KEY DUE DATES
1 Introduction to food, culture, and politics  
Part 1: Foundations
2 Food paradoxes and dilemmas in the US  
3 Food and power in the global arena  
4

Waste amidst plenty

In-class viewing and discussion:

BUFFET: All You Can Eat Las Vegas. Directed by Natasha Schüll. Color, 30 min. 2006.

In-class discussion:

“What Makes a Critical Essay”

 
5

Cheap meat and expensive fish

Written Assignment 1: Cheap Meat distributed

 
Part 2: What Makes Food Good?
6 Good food is culinarily authentic Written Assignment 1: Cheap Meat due
7

Good food is culturally authentic

In-class viewing and discussion:

Excerpt from The Meaning of Food. Series directed by Maria Gargiulo, Vivian Kleiman, Kris Kristensen, and Karin Williams. Color, 180 min. 2004.

 
8 Good food is convenient  
9

Good food tastes good

In-class tasting: Chocolate

 
10 Good food feeds relationships Written Assignment 2: revision of Cheap Meat due
11

Good food is symbolically pure

In-class exercise:

Bring in a photo of a meal you’ve eaten in the past week. ITEMIZE and DECIPHER it as A MEAL, offering a symbolic, structural reading akin to Mary Douglas’s. Why (and in what contexts) does this count as a “meal”? This meal might be representative of your daily diet, or an exception to it. We are not being food police here, but rather doing symbolic analyses of empirical data.

 
12

In-class writing workshop with Karen Pepper, lecturer, MIT Comparative Media Studies / Writing

Brainstorming / free-write for final papers, tips for doing library research, follow-up on deciphering exercise

Written Assignment 3: Food Memory distributed

 
13

Good food reminds you of your mother (or homeland or childhood)

In-class viewing and discussion:

Excerpt from Ratatouille. Directed by Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava. Color, 111 min. 2007.

Excerpt from The Meaning of Food. Series directed by Maria Gargiulo, Vivian Kleiman, Kris Kristensen, and Karin Williams. Color, 180 min. 2004.

Written Assignment 3: Food Memory due
14

On gastropolitics

Written Assignment 4: Food Memory, Revisited distributed

 
15

Good food is nutritional

In-class viewing and discussion:

Excerpt from Frontline: Diet Wars. Directed by Jon Palfreman. Color, 60 min. 2004.

Eat the Butter.” YouTube.

Final Paper Proposal information distributed

Written Assignment 4: Food Memory, Revisited due 
16

Good food is (engineered to taste) real

In-class peer-reviewing of final paper proposals—bring 2 hard copies to class to share with peers

 
17 Good food is appreciated, not appropriated Revised final paper proposal due
18

Good food is medicinal

Guest lecture: Alex Rewegan, MIT-HASTS

 
19 Any food is good food if you’re hungry  
20

Good food is just

In-class viewing:

Food Forward, Ep. 8: Food (Justice) For All. Directed by Greg Roden. Color, 24 min. (**View the first story—Salinas, CA)

In-class tasting: Vermont cheese

 
Part 3: Food Futures
21 Good food is sense-ible/able  
22

How good is the future of agriculture?

In-class viewing:

The Future of Food. Directed by Deborah Koons Garcia. Color, 88 mins. 2004.

Final paper draft due 
23 Guest lecture: Andrea McClave, MIT Integrated Design & Management, on developing an MIT food map app  
24 Thanksgiving  
25 Good food sustains us  
26 Final paper panel presentations  
27

Potluck and final paper panel presentations

Bring to class a food item of significance to you (perhaps a nostalgia food, or an item from the meal you deciphered, etc.). Be prepared to speak briefly about your offering for our feast.

Final paper due

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples