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Web Schedule Spring 2018

Revision Date: 20-Nov-17

HUM-2120-VJ01 - The Power of Food in Literature, Culture & Film

Synonym: 164857
Location: Upper Valley
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Hybrid Section: This course meets both online and at the site office. See below or consult VSC Web Services - Search for Sections in the VSC portal for specific dates and times.
Semester Dates: 01-27-2018 to 05-26-2018
Last day to drop without a grade: 02-11-2018 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 03-25-2018 - Refund Policy
Faculty: Nathan Astin | View Faculty Credentials
Materials/Lab Fees: $3,322.00
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration
This section meets the following General Education Requirement(s):
Global Perspective/Sustainability
Human Expression
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Comments: This is a special study abroad section which requires separate application and approval prior to registration. Find info at Meets online and at CCV Upper Valley on Saturdays 1/27, 2/17, 3/17, 4/2, 5/26. Travel dates to France: 5/5-5/14.

Browse the Moodle Site for this class.

Course Description:

In this interdisciplinary course, students will explore the power and meaning of food and how it is contextualized within the broader aspects of culture and human experience as revealed and expressed in literature and film. Although food plays a fundamental role in survival, it is also at the heart of shared and ritualized eating practices--from simple to ceremonial--that shape identity and define notions of community. Through interpreting short fiction, novels, poems, essays and select films, students will explore the cultural and social significance of food in a range of world cultures, the role of food as a literary or cinematic device, and the metaphoric quality of food as it expresses human desire and behavior.

Essential Objectives:

1. Define basic literary elements and identify examples where food is employed as a device to express ideas, tone, and values in literature and film.
2. Critically read, view, analyze and evaluate selected works of contemporary literature and film in a broad selection of cultures from around the world, focusing on how food choices, and food-related rituals and behaviors reflect issues of identity and community.
3. Describe the metaphoric quality of food in both eating practices and the presentation of food in a variety of cultures, and discuss how food (or its absence) can powerfully convey meaning in social contexts.
4. Examine the historical, social, economic, political and cultural circumstances surrounding the role and availability of food as it is expressed in selected works of literature and film.
5. Examine how the types and uses of food in film and literature may project a specific, erroneous, or limited image of a culture, and evaluate what is lost and gained in the process.
6. Critically view and analyze films, examining how artistic interpretation and the use of visual imagery and soundtracks influence the portrayal and perception of the role of food in culture and relationships.


Teaching Methods:

·         Small lectures

·         In-class readings, discussions, and analyses

·         Small group in-class projects and presentations

·         Research paper

·         Larger presentations

·         Film and literary analysis

·         Forum posts

·         Guest speakers

·         Travel    

Evaluation Criteria:

·         20% Attendance and Participation

·         35% Presentations and Assignments

·         10% Research Paper

·         35% Moodle forums, posts, assignments

Letter Grade Criteria:

·         A+ (>98)

·         A   (93-97)

·         A-  (90-92)

·         B+ (87-89)

·         B   (83-86)

·         B-  (80-82)

·         C+ (77-79)

·         C   (73-76)

·         C-  (70-72)

·         D+ (67-69)

·         D   (63-66)

·         D- (60-62)

·         F  (<60)


Spring 2018 textbook data will be available on December 4. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be for this course only. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks.

The last day to use a Financial Aid advance to purchase textbooks is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.

Contact Faculty:

Email: Nathan Astin
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Lesli O'Dowd

  Work Phone: 802-786-2534

Attendance Policy:

This is a very unique hybrid format for a class.  We only meet 5 times in person, and each of those classes is 6 hours long, so missing one of those would constitute 20% of class time missed.  Therefore, it is very important you do not miss face-to-face classes.  If there are extenuating circumstances, we can come up with alternative assignments for you to make up the missed class.  Two face-to-face classes missed will result in an automatic failure of the course.  Attendance will also be factored by weekly participation in Moodle forums and posts.  Attendance and participation is 20% of the overall grade, and factors that will contribute to that grade are Moodle participation, face-to-face class attendance and participation, and the participation during the trip.


It is very important that our class builds a strong community since we will be spending a lot of time together and having amazing experiences as a group.  This makes attendance and participation vital.



Class 1 January 27

·         Course Introduction and Logistics

·         Getting to know one another:

o   Who are we?

o   Where do we come from? 

o   What is our relationship to food? 

o   What do we know about the French and their food? 

o   What travel experiences have we had?

·         In a group activity to help begin to build community, discuss the following questions:

o   What do you think of when you hear the word French, specifically as it relates to food? 

o   What biases and stereotypes of French culture are common in the U.S.? 

o   What are some historical underpinnings that may explain these biases?

o   What is one word that your group would use to describe France/French?

·         What do we know about the French and their food? Discussion on French history, culture, and language.

·         Examine Americanization of French food vs. actual French cuisine (Objective 5)

·         Watch Ratatouille (Objective 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and be prepared to discuss the film’s presentation of food as a social construct.  Groups will also explore how the film may project a specific, erroneous, or limited view of French culture and food. 

·         Homework for next class:

o   Read Consider the Fork chapter and Introduction to Cooked by Michael Pollan.

o   Research a food dish important to your family or upbringing, and write an analysis of the dish and if possible bring in the dish to serve. 

o   Start reading Mastering the Art of French Eating.

o   Answer and discuss weekly Moodle questions.

Class 2 February 17

  • Understanding our own conceptions of food: what food(s) plays an important role in your family/history/culture?  Presentation and sharing of family dish.
  • Guest speaker: Marisa Astin: fluent French speaker and state certified French teacher; she will discuss some basics behind the French language to help get students acquainted with a few helpful words they will encounter while traveling
  • Watch Chef’s Table France episode (45 min.) (Objective 2, 4, 5, 6)

·         Consider the Fork and Cooked Introduction discussions (Objective 3):

    • What are some of the historical and cultural ways in which food has shaped our lives? 
    • What changes has food undergone in American and French cultures?   
    • What are some important food tools and cooking implements in our lives? How have these technologies changed our world?
  • Discussion on history of food and cooking
  • In groups, students will be given a topic to explore from the following:
    • Compare and contrast eating out and eating at home in France vs. the U.S. (How often to the French eat out? What does a typical meal look like at home? How has each country affected the others eating habits? Etc.)
    • Compare and contrast France vs. the rest of Europe in its relationship to food (restaurants vs. home cooking, markets, types of food eaten, etc.).
    • Calculate and compare the cost of a typical meal in France and the U.S.  (What is the cost of restaurants, what is average cost of groceries, how does the Euro compare to the dollar, etc.).
  • Homework for next class:
    • Finish reading Mastering the Art of French Eating. 
    • Read “Watching Food” by Anne L. Bower Chapter 1 in Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film book on Google Books online (link on Moodle).
    • Research French dish and create presentation on the dish to be shared in next class (option to bring the dish to share with class).  Presentation of the dish should include the following:
      • The history and cultural relevance of the dish in France
      • A little background about the French region the dish hails from
      • An overview of the ingredients and how to make the dish
      • List any metaphoric qualities the dish may have and how the dish conveys meaning in social contexts
      • Pictures of the dish and the dish’s region

o   Answer and discuss weekly Moodle questions.

Class 3 March 17

  • Presentation of French dishes: what are the history, prevalence, and social context behind the dish?  (Objective 1, 3)
  • Mastering the Art of French Eating examination: discuss different French dishes and their history, along with their cultural heritage and significance (Objective 3, 4)
  • Guest speaker—local French chef and/or baker
  • Read poems about food paying close attention to how food is used as a literary device.  Analyze how the poems use figurative language and tone to express values. (Objective 1, 2)
  • Begin research paper on topic related to important French history, people, culture, and/or art.  Brainstorm and discuss thesis statements.
  • Watch Julie and Julia (Objective 2, 4, 5, 6). 

·         Evaluate and analyze Julie and Julia using the ideas presented by Bower’s article.

  • Homework for next class:
    • Read Emile Zola’s The Belly of Paris.
    • Finish research paper.
    • Prepare a list of what you plan on bringing on trip.

o   Answer and discuss weekly Moodle questions.

Class 4 April 2

  • Interpret Emile Zola’s The Belly of Paris and how Zola’s novel portrays food and its relationship with the political, historical, economic, and cultural circumstances during France’s Second Empire? (Objective 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

·         Discuss literary elements in the novel and how food is presented through language (Objective 1, 2) Research paper due; informally present to class.

  • View The Hundred-Foot Journey (Objective 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
    • How are French and Indian food employed in the film to express ideas, tone, and cultural values?
    • How do food-related rituals and behaviors in the film reflect issues of identity and community, and what are the differences between the two portrayed cultures as it relates to these issues?
    • How does food convey meaning for the French and Indian cultures in the film?  What are the differences in eating practices and food presentation between the two cultures, and how does food help shape community?
    • Does the film project an erroneous or limited image of the French and Indian cultures?
  • How do the visuals of the film influence the portrayal and perception of the role of food in these cultures?  Does artistic interpretation limit or expand your ideas about food and its role in these cultures?

·         Assess travel dos and don’ts: discuss money issues, what to pack, technology preparation, and any other issues that students may have about the logistics of traveling.  There will be a forum on our Moodle page throughout the semester that discusses these issues and gives students the opportunity to ask questions and address concerns.  Have student guest speaker who has taken a CCV trip to give tips.

·         Review and assign research questions students (preferably in groups) need to complete and share during the trip (questions identified below on relevant travel days).  Students should do some research ahead of time and share with the rest of the group on the days identified in itinerary.

  • View Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations in France (Objective 2, 5)
  • Homework for next class (Post-trip class):
    • Present Prezi or PowerPoint on trip

o   Answer and discuss weekly Moodle questions.

    • During the trip, write a reflection each day about that day’s experiences.  One to two people will be required to submit those for CCV Now and CCV’s social media accounts.  We will also being posting daily photos of meals with recipes.

Class 5 May 26 (Post-trip)

  • Present Prezi or PowerPoint on trip (Objectives 3, 4):

o   Must include pictures and analysis of the food you ate and the cultural experiences you had. 

o   How were other cuisines similar or different in France than in the U.S.? (i.e. Chinese, Thai, American, Mexican, Spanish, Italian, etc.)

    • How have your experiences reinforced or changed your perceptions about French culture and gastronomy? 
    • After traveling how have your understanding and relationship with food changed both personally and culturally? 

Research Questions for Trip

·         What were the common foods for ancient students and clergy, and how did this gastronomy contrast with the eating habits of royalty?

·         How has food played a role in social conflict?  What effects did food have on the French and American Revolutions?

·         Analyze the historical influence of Norman culture on English.  What words and foods made their way to England and then America? What are some food rituals of Benedictine monks?

·         What did ancient people in Europe eat?  Would we be able to subsist on a similar diet today?

·         What role does wine play in French culture?  Is the American view of French attitudes towards wine erroneous or limited?  What are the differences between French and American views towards alcohol?

·         What similarities and differences are their between the cheese industry in Vermont and France? Categorize the most important French cheeses.


Please note: In order to receive accommodations for disabilities in this course, students must make an appointment to see the Americans with Disabilities Coordinator in their site and bring documentation with them.

Academic Honesty: CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.

Course description details subject to change. Please refer to this document frequently.

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