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Essential Objectives

Web Schedule Fall 2019

Revision Date: 21-Aug-19

The Power of Food in Literature, Culture & Film

Semester Dates: Last day to drop without a grade: 09-23-2019 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-04-2019 - Refund Policy
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This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration

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.


As an online class, we will obviously gather virtually - but a lot of the work you do will be almost physical. You will need to read materials carefully, view four-five films critically and carefully, prepare for three cultural observations (where you will observe how, where, and why people consume food), and keep notes of all this activity so that you are ready to share your insights with your peers. I will post viewing and observation note taking guides to help you with all of this. My responsibilities also include posting the following: "terms" of week so we all learn to use and understand a new vocabulary of food and culture, mini-video introductions of each week's topic, frequent and timely response to both your work on the post and the forum, and honest and constructive feedback on your writing and ideas.

In order to explore this topic we must first agree that this course will be a bit different than other courses. The topic demands your participation and your contributions. For that reason, your “presence” on the different forums is paramount to your success in this course, and I will use your participation in the discussion board to log your attendance. Our weeks run from Tuesday to Monday night this semester. Any participation in a forum after Monday night does not count toward the previous week. Since this is an intensive, if you miss two weeks you will automatically fail this course. (Also see Grading Criteria below)

As this is in an online course, expect the amount of personal work to be serious, but not overwhelming. You will be reading and writing every week and should really work to stay current if not ahead of the reading in order to be successful. You have all assignments outlined or planned below so should be able to plan around any significant busy times in your own lives. As this is an online course I need to be rather firm with deadlines – for both your benefit and mine. Any late work is automatically graded 10 points lower for every day it is late and will not be accepted a week past the due date. However, since we are all adults and realize that life does happen, know that if you do have a personal emergency you can always email me before the work is due. Because this is an intensive, late work is really something we all need to avoid.

In terms of the actual methods we will use to explore this topic, you can expect:

  • Weekly microlectures which may or may not include a powerpoint.
  • Assigned reading almost every week (which I expect you to keep notes on).
  • Assigned viewings regularly throughout the course (which you should also keep notes on).
  • Three “socio”-observations which will require you to go out into your community and observe food in our culture.
  • Various food “exercises” which you will try to incorporate into your week and then write about your experience.
  • Weekly discussion forum and post forum (both of which are outlined below).
  • One 500 word maximum essay and one independent reading/viewing project (again outlined below).
  • Regular visits and interaction with the course and your peers through Moodle. I do expect everyone to be on the site and active at least three times a week for a total minimum of three hours.
  • Interaction with your instructor either by email or phone as you feel is needed.

I do reserve the right to shift this syllabus slightly as the course progresses if our class situation warrants so.

Texts & Required Materials:

Need to buy in any format: A Day of Honey - Memoir of Food and War

Weekly academic journal articles (accessed through Hartness Library – permalinked in syllabus and in Canvas)

Four films:(which you must purchase or purchase viewing rights to)

Eat, Drink, Man, Woman

Food, Inc

Fried Green Tomatoes

The Hundred Foot Journey

N.B. Only some items from our required course materials are available through the CCV Bookstore. You are responsible for securing copies of the films below through other avenues (Netflix, Amazon, your local library, your local video store, etc.). Most of the academic readings are available through the Hartness Library at no additional cost to you as part of your status as a CCV student. You will have to log in to read these materials. There are a couple of other materials that we will access via the internet – again at no additional cost.

One film or novel/book of the student's choosing as the topic of the final presentation. You will require access to a computer with the ability to record sound and some presentation software (powerpoint, etc - you have free access through CCV). A list of acceptable books/films will be available in the Canvas classroom.

Evaluation Criteria:

<b" roman="" new="" times=""MsoNormal">35% Discussion Forum: Each week I will pose a questions or questions on the week’s topic. In your response I ask that you demonstrate that you have done the readings or the viewings, have thought critically about the issues at hand, and are attempting to share your experiences to further the group discussion. This is where I am looking for you to use the week's readings or viewings to inform your answers to posted questions or discussion topics. This forum is a bit more informal - though all writing should have a tone fitting for professional exchange(No "text-language" - though the occasional smiley face helps to alleviate any miscommunication in our online community). Each week you must post a discussion response and respond to the posts of a minimum two of your peers. In order to earn full credit in this forum:

  • the original post must be a minimum of a fullparagraph piece 250-400 words
  • you must have at least two responses to your peers which approach short paragraphs
  • you must respond to every peer that responds to your substantive post.

Discussions only count if posted within the week they are due. In order to receive full credit and allow time for your peers to comment, please post by Friday night.

30% Post Forum: Most weeks I ask you to post a more formal reflection on the week’s topic or write a more formal summary of an ethnographic observation. This is a writing you compose and then post for your peers to read. I would expect these posts to be one – two short paragraphs (minimum of 200 words) and demonstrate both mastery and familiarity with topics, readings, and viewings from the weeks prior. This is where I will expect you to begin to synthesize your thoughts as we move through the course. There are no replies required for this forum (but they are always welcome). You may miss one post without penalty or I will drop your lowest grade. In order to receive full credit please post by Sunday night.

Both of the forums above will be graded according to their respective descriptions and the following rubric:

  • 5 points -The original post was submitted on time and responses were completed within the week allowing enough time for others to reply. This discussion is a response to the questions posed by the instructor in each week's forum prompt and includes evidence that both shows all readings/viewing are complete and that supports ideas. Tone is respectful and professional. *This is a superior post - do not expect this level without giving each post real time*
  • 4 points -The original post was submitted on time and responses were completed within the week allowing enough time for others to reply. This discussion post either responds to the questions posed by the instructor in each week's forum prompt or includes evidence that all readings/viewing are complete. Language and tone are serious but miss the level of attention for a 5. Postings are shorter than optimal.
  • 3 points -The original post is late or was submitted on time with responses completed within the week.This discussion post either responds to the questions posed by the instructor in each week'sforum prompt or includes evidence that all readings/viewing are complete. However, attention to detail, tone, and original thoughts are satisfactory. Responses are little more than attempts to agree/disagree with substance or reasoning and proofs. All contributions are a bit shorter than what the topic deserves.
  • 2 points -The original post is late or was submitted on time with less than required responses completedwithintheweek. This discussion post fails to either respond to the questions posted by the instructor or include evidence that all readings/viewing are complete. There is an attempt to participate but little attention paid to composition or thought.
  • 1 point -Nominal participation or inappropriate/disrespectful tone.
  • 0 points -No participation or plagiarized language/material.

20%<b" roman="" new="" times=""" roman="" new="" times="""> All due Monday night at the end of the week in which they fall. These will include the following:

  • Three Cultural Observations.
  • Essay : Food Memory

This is a short writing piece (400-500 words) – but please don’t be misled into thinking brevity means low quality. Please make sure that everything you write has a purpose in your essay and choose your words and images carefully.
Please share a memory from your own life that may or not may not have revolved around food; the one criteria for this memory is that food or a food event was present. Then write about this memory while using the food that was present to help you convey a sense of the emotions, the tensions, the relationships, and the atmosphere of that memory. Hopefully, this will be a chance for you to really explore the different elements of your memory and try to capture them in a short piece of writing.

<b" roman="" new="" times=""" roman="" new="" times=""" roman="" new="" times=""font-weight: bold;">Final Project

This project is the vehicle through which you will demonstrate mastery of the themes and material from the semester. This, however, is an opportunity for you to explore some of these topics on your own and to apply them to a film or book of your choice. Ideally, this will be a project that is not only academically intriguing but also personally compelling. For this presentation you must:

o Choose a book or a film to read/view independently.
This does not have to be specifically food-based, but must obviously use food as a literary or cinematic tool. This may be something you have read/seen before. There is a marvelous list of books and films at the end of the Dinner and a Movie reading from Week 4. I would also be very interested in a project that revolved around a particular food-based TV show, radio program, or magazine. This kind of project, however, would require a minimum of three (3) episodes/issues in order to be comparable to a book/film project.

o Identify how the book/film incorporates at least three themes or "powers of food" from this class. Please identify and then demonstrate how your film/book uses three of the following themes which revolve around food: culture, ethnicity, faith, identity, community, business (commodity), gender, nationality, connection.

o Submit the project on time to Canvas. Full rubric and description in canvas.

Grading Criteria:

All written assignments, including our final paper, will have specific rubrics posted in Moodle; I will grade based on those and share a copy of that grading rubric when I return your work. See above for how I will grade the different forums in this course. Late work is handled in each rubric as a proportional point deduction, but please know that as a rule I do not accept late work beyond a week of the due date. If you have a personal emergency please contact me directly.

A+ through A-: For any work to receive an "A," it must clearly be exceptional or outstanding work. It must demonstrate keen insight and original thinking. It must not only demonstrate full understanding of the topic or issues addressed, but it must also provide a critical analysis of these. In addition, an "A" grade reflects a student's ability to clearly and thoughtfully articulate his or her learning.

B+ through B-: For any work to receive a "B," it must be good to excellent work. It must demonstrate strong originality, comprehension, critical thinking, and attention to detail. In addition, a "B" grade reflects a student's ability to clearly articulate his or her learning.

C+ through C-: For any work to receive a "C," it must meet the expectations of the assignment. It must demonstrate solid comprehension, critical thinking, and attention to detail. In addition, a "C" grade reflects a student's ability to adequately articulate his or her learning.

D+ through D-: For any work to receive a "D," it must marginally meet the expectations of the assignment. It demonstrates minimal comprehension, critical thinking, and attention to detail. In addition, a "D" grade may reflect a student's difficulty in articulating his or her learning.

F: Work that receives an "F" grade does not meet the expectations or objectives of the assignment. It demonstrates consistent problems with comprehension, organization, critical thinking, and supporting details. In addition, an "F" grade reflects a student's inability to articulate his or her learning. Students are strongly urged to discuss this grade with their instructor and advisor.

P: Equivalent to D (+/-) or better and therefore course will not count as credit for specific program requirements or competence area requirements.

NP: indicates failure to meet course objectives and/or failure to meet grading criteria for successful completion as described in the instructor's course description.


Fall 2019 textbook data will be available on May 13. 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.

Attendance Policy:

Attendance Policy: Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential components of a student's success in college and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. Since this is an intensive, please be aware that missing more than two (2) weeks will result in a non-satisfactory grade. Attendance in this classes is tracked via the Forums.



Week 1 Exploring FOOD & Ourselves & Culture
Introductions to Community and Course. What is Food? What should we consider food for this course? What does it mean to say that something is cultural? Why does culture matter? How many cultures and subcultures could exist for an individual??"

Posted Resources: Class Terms and Course Expectations
Bower, A. (2004) Watching food: The Production of food, Film, and Values. Psychology Press. First Chapter found on google books.
Mintz, S. W., & Bois, C. (2002). THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD AND EATING. Annual Review Of Anthropology, 31(1), 99-119. doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.32.032702.131011
Villareal, C. (2007). CULTURAL RELATIVITY: MY WORLD, YOUR WORLD, OUR WORLD. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 64(3), 230-234. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Robin Fox "On Food and Eating"

Discussion: Introductions
Post: What is Food?

Week 2 Food, Culture, and Memoir

How is food a product both for and of culture? How does culture shape food systems? Why do different cultures avoid, revere, and use different foods? Could food shape a culture?

A Day of Honey - a Memoir of Food and War Chapters 1-10

Peter Menzel's "What the World Eats"

Observation #1: Cultural Eating

Discussion: Cultural Relativity
Post: Food in a Memoir

Week 3 Food & Identity
How and when is identity created, recreated, and shaped? What role would culture play in the identity of an individual? How can food systems support and challenge identity?

Posted Resource – Consuming Identity, Mercedes Pour-Previti
Dinner and a movie: analyzing food and film. Cynthia Baron.Food, Culture & Society. 9.1 (Spring 2006) p93.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Discussion: Media Analysis
Post: The Roles of Food in Fried Green Tomatoes – Identity

Assignment #1: Food Memory Essay

Week 4 Aspects of Identity: Gender, Ethnicity, and Nationality
What is gender? How does culture create, shape, and reinforce gender and gender roles?
How does food create, shape, embody, and reinforce gender? What are the differences between these two terms? Can foods be ethnically or nationally charged? What does the term “ethnic food” mean in our vernacular?

Williams-Forson, P. (2010). Other Women Cooked for My Husband: Negotiating Gender, Food, and Identities in an African American/Ghanaian Household. Feminist Studies, 36(2), 435-461.

Cullen, L., Powell, B., & Mascarenas, D. (2008). When Eat Meets West. Time, 171(4), 44-46. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

The Hundred Foot Journey

Observation #2 – Gender Roles
Discussion: Ethnic Foods

Post: Food in this Film – The Hundred Foot Journey

Week 5 Communities and Food

What creates and maintains community? Can we include religion in our definition of community? What roles does food play in religion? How can food and food systems sustain or corrupt community? What does the creation and consumption of a meal entail?
Listen: On Point Interview with Adam Gopnik

A Day of Honey - a Memoir of Food and War Chapters 12-15

Flachs, A. (2010). Food for Thought: The Social Impact of Community Gardens in the Greater Cleveland Area. Electronic Green Journal, 1(30), 1-9.

Hinton, M. ( ) Saying grace: praying over the loss of African-American religious and food related culture (and how they are related). Religious Education, 103:4, 469-479.
Nath, J. (2010). 'God is a vegetarian': The food, health and bio-spirituality of Hare Krishna, Buddhist and Seventh-Day Adventist devotees. Health Sociology Review, 19(3), 356-368.

Discussion: Community and Food
Post: The Primacy of Food and Faith

Week 6 The Business of Food

How did the Columbian exchange change diets on both sides of the Atlantic? What has been the relationship between food and business through history? When and how did food become a commodity? What are food products?
View: Food, Inc. and The Meatrix Series.
Ted Talk food Series

Pages 1-3 and 5-17 from Nunn, N and Qian, N. The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas.

Discussion: Food as a Product

Observation #3 – Chain Restaurant

Independent Presentation

Week 7 Food in Literature & Film/Reflections

How do you see food used in this part of the book? What links can you make to major aspects and topics introduced in the course?


A Day of Honey - a Memoir of Food and War Part Four

Discussion: Peer Project Discussion
Post: Food in a Complex Novel/Film

Post: Class Reflection

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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