Washington Center

Anthropology of Food and Drink

Semester Elective
Seminar 317

This course provides an introduction to the new, exciting anthropological field of food and drink.  Food is necessary for survival and yet it is never consumed without being transformed and mediated by social meaning.  Food is the backbone of society and sociability.  When abundant and varied it is a source of pleasure, when scarce, the cause of pain and suffering.  Through eating, we create solidarity and a sense of well being, while at the same time enacting gender, class, national, and ethnic roles.  In this course, we will examine all these topics, as well as a series of key themes in food studies, including food taboos, the connection between food and religious belief and practice, the global politics of food, consumption patterns and health, cross-cultural notions of the meal, among others.  We will also analyze drinking patterns cross-culturally to determine why, what, where, and how different peoples choose to consume beverages, particularly alcoholic beverages.  In addition to required readings, our analyses of food and drink will include sources from popular culture, including commer-cial and independent films, advertising images and text, cookbooks, and self-help literature.  Through lectures, readings, and a series of small projects, we will analyze the important, albeit often unmarked, place of food in shaping our own identity and place in the world, as well as the ways in which consumption patterns have changed through time. 

Syllabus: SylBrandes193.pdf

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