Studies in Literature and Folklore: Art, Culture and Cuisine

480: Folklore and Literature: Art, Culture and Cuisine (W)

We are what we eat. It is also true that we are what we do not eat. Food taboos and avoidance of specific foods function as highly effective cultural boundaries and identity. From forbidden fruits and elaborate cakes to barbecued husbands and pickled vegetables, the cuisine presented in this course embodies a complex system of communication best understood utilizing theories of folklore and literature. Food serves as a template for examining numerous aspects of human/folkloric experience–sacral and secular, personal and political, mythic and scientific.

In this course, we will study folklore in relationship to images of food in art and literature. A familiarity with myth/oral narrative, the contemporary legend, and the folktale enables students to see themselves as part of a larger cultural story as well as recognize and validate particular stories which give meaning to their own experience. In this course, students will gain a broader understanding of diversity and multiculturalism as well as an opportunity to bring their own experiences to text, both personal and reading-based.

Students will write two short essays and one 7-10 page research paper—with an additional works cited page—(peer reviews and conferences are required for each assignment). Responsibilities also include two formal presentations, four blog submissions, mandatory conferences, attendance, and participation.

Texts (Tentative List): The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood; Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway; Folklore Rules by Lynne S. McNeill; Food and Culture: A Reader—Third Edition by Carole Counihan and Penny Esterik. Texts can be purchased at the UH Bookstore. No electronic versions of these texts will be acceptable in class. An additional reader will also be required.