USSO 292M: What We Talk About When We Talk About Food

“It is a lie that food is just fuel. It has always had layers of meaning, and humans for the most part despise meaningless food.”
–Michael W. Twitty, The Cooking Gene, pp. 403

Course Description, Summer 2019: Food. What is seemingly a simple choice of what to put into our bodies is at the same time deeply connected to how we think about ourselves, and our relationship to our culture and our communities. In this course, we will explore food in American culture and society by discussing topics such as food and personal/ethnic identity; eating for nutrition vs. pleasure; food access and insecurity; Community Supported Agriculture; genetically-modified organisms; and hunting as a food source. We will not only focus on these topics and issues themselves, but the way in which they are discussed—the language and rhetorical techniques employed in the conversation.

Due to the condensed nature of a summer course, this iteration of USSO 292M will contain a tighter topical focus. We will spend our eight weeks together considering what it means to eat a “healthy” diet. In keeping with the course’s emphasis on rhetoric, we will also be looking at how concepts such as “health” and “wellness” are rhetorically and culturally constructed. Additionally, an accelerated course also means a rigorous reading and writing schedule.

Guiding Questions

  • What makes food and eating “healthy,” and how are terms like “health” and “wellness” wielded in discussions of food?
  • Who determines what foods or diets are considered “healthy”? Who or what stands to gain or lose from a particular construction of healthy foods or healthy eating?
  • What kinds of rhetorical or persuasive techniques are employed in discussions of healthy food and healthy eating, and how are reasons and evidence used?
  • How might we think about the role of culture in relation to “healthy” food and eating?

 

Course Description, Spring 2019: Food. What is seemingly a simple choice of what to put into our bodies is at the same time deeply connected to how we think about ourselves, and our relationship to our culture and our communities. In this course, we will explore food in American culture and society by discussing topics such as food and personal/ethnic identity; eating for nutrition vs. pleasure; food access and insecurity; Community Supported Agriculture; genetically-modified organisms; and hunting as a food source. We will not only focus on these topics and issues themselves, but the way in which they are discussed—the language and rhetorical techniques employed in the conversation.

Guiding Questions

  • How is this food-related topic or issue being discussed by those involved? For example, what kinds of rhetorical or persuasive techniques are employed in the discussion and how are reasons and evidence used?
  • Who or what are the stakeholders involved in this food-related topic or issue? In other words, who or what stands to gain or lose from a particular perspective?
  • What (if any) ethical issues are involved in this food-related topic or issue? How are these ethical issues being addressed within the conversation, if at all?

Photo of course flyer