The History of Food --

at Home, in the Field, and on Campus

Capstone His465

Winter 2011

Sarah McNair Vosmeier

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Many of our happiest memories concern food: home-cooked meals, first dates, holiday treats, picnics in the park. In this course, we will delve farther back into food history, considering such topics as the transformation of modern agriculture, the development of commercial food service, the history of specific food items such as corn, and changes in what college students eat. Most topics of discussion will be determined by the students, but the question of whether the food of a particular era is shaped most by culture or by economics is likely to be central.

This is a seminar-style course - the focus will be on individual research and on presenting that research to the public. All Capstone students participate in Capstone events and write a final Capstone essay, some of which will be published in a printed anthology. Our classroom work and assignments will complement and support those events and essay.

Books Available at the Bookstore

Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers, sixth edition.

Wendell Berry, Bringing It to the Table, 2009

Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma, 2006

Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner, 1986

Assigned readings will be available on reserve or online.

As our discussions will be based on close readings of the texts, you will need to bring the texts to class (or photocopies, print outs, or your own extensive notes on them). Thus, you should budget appropriately for printing and photocopying.

Calculating Final Grades

Participation 15%

Presentations and short analyses 25%

Exams (10% and 5%) 15%

Capstone Essay, penultimate draft 20%

Capstone Essay, final draft 25%

Nota Bene

Our class time provides an opportunity, rare in modern life, to focus for an extended time on a single task and conversation. Please do not multitask (with laptops, cell phones, etc.) while we are together.

Late papers will be penalized, and in-class assignments cannot be made up. Students with emergencies who wish to request an exception to this rule should contact me before the due date.

A note about participation, exams, and assignments --

Participation: Students are expected to participate in all discussions, to provide supportive advice on their colleagues' work, and to attend Capstone events. Brief assignments complement the regular work of the class and the Capstone events. Students with responsibilities that conflict with Capstone events should contact me before the event for an alternative assignment (except that no alternative assignment is possible for the Feb. 22 "Capstone in Action").

People who excel in participation show evidence of careful preparation for our time together; they make useful comments or ask helpful questions; and they complete all brief assignments adequately, handing them in on time.

Presentations: Students will make several short presentations to their classmates in connection with their research. Short analyses (600-1000 words) and similar complementary material are included in the presentation grade. Students will also make short public presentations for the Feb. 22 "Capstone in Action."

Exams: The exams will cover in-class discussions of shared reading assignments.

Capstone Essay: The final draft of the Capstone Essay (5,500 to 10,000 words) will culminate the term's research, presentations, discussions, and preliminary written assignments, and it should be suitable for publication. The penultimate draft will be 3,000 words or more.

A note about this course and history department goals:

Through class discussion, writing, and oral presentations, you will develop skills in analyzing primary sources and in evaluating historical arguments. You will make your own historical arguments supported by evidence from primary and secondary sources.


Food History Sampler and Food on Campus

January 10, 2011 (Mon) Lecture: "Defining Terms."

January 12, 2011 (Wed) Pollan, Omnivore's Dilemma (2006), 15-50, 63-64, 109-19.

January 14, 2011 (Fri) Capstone common reading discussion: Berry, Bringing It to the Table (1989), 227-34. Also prepare Pollan, 1-11; Berry, ix-xvi, 11-18, 185-86 (2009, 2002, 2009). Meet in Science Center 102.

January 17, 2011 (Mon) Workshop: Managing a Bibliography. Meet at Duggan Library computer lab.

January 19, 2011 (Wed) Workshop: Sodexo tour. Berry, 81-85 (1971). Meet at Campus Dining Room.

January 21, 2011 (Fri) "Selected Readings" bibliography due. Presentations of reading recommendations. "The History of Your Dinner" presentation topic due.

January 24, 2011 (Mon) Workshop: Research in the Triangle and Madison Courier. Meet at the Duggan Library archives.

January 26, 2011 (Wed) Workshop: Bibliographic Instruction. Meet at the Duggan Library computer lab.

January 28, 2011 (Fri) Krehbiel and Meabon, "Gruel and Unusual Nourishment," 2006, or t.b.a.

January 31, 2011 (Mon) Presentations: "The History of Your Dinner."

February 2, 2011 (Wed) Visser, Much Depends on Dinner (1986), 11-21, 285-322. Topic statement and working bibliography for Capstone Essay due.

Selected Readings in Food History

February 4, 2011 (Fri) Kawash, "Candy Prophylactic" 2010 (online).

February 7, 2011 (Mon) Secondary source analysis due. Presentation of a secondary source.

February 9, 2011 (Wed) Neuhaus, "The Way to a Man's Heart," 1999 (online).

February 11, 2011 (Fri) Green, "Tricksters and the Marketing of Breakfast Cereals," 2007 (online).

February 14, 2011 (Mon) Levin, "One Man's Meat is Another Man's Poison," 2001 (online).

February 16, 2011 (Wed) Primary source analysis due. Presentation of a primary source.

February 18, 2011 (Fri) Student selected assignment t.b.a.

February 21, 2011 (Mon) No class meeting.

Feb. 22 (Tues), 4:00 - Presentation of "The History of Your Dinner" for "Capstone in Action."

February 23, 2011 (Wed) Review

February 25, 2011 (Fri) First exam.


Final Research and Analysis and Final Capstone Events

March 7, 2011 (Mon) Berry, Bringing It to the Table, 19-30, 49-65, 105-118, 189-93 (1978, 1997, 1979, 1981, 2004).

March 9, 2011 (Wed) Capstone Symposium reading, t.b.a.

March 11, 2011 (Fri) Workshop: Celebrating research successes and solving research problems. Meet at the Duggan Library computer lab.

Capstone Symposium Mar. 13-15

March 14, 2011 (Mon) No class meeting. Brief assignment for Capstone Symposium due.

March 16, 2011 (Wed) No class meeting. Brief assignment for Capstone Symposium due.

March 18, 2011 (Fri) Workshop: Collective work day. Meet at the Duggan Library computer lab.

March 21, 2011 (Mon) Presentations of historical argument.

March 23, 2011 (Wed) Engler and Engler, "Four Ways of Looking at an Aztec Eagle" (2010), or t.b.a. Brief assignment for Chavez lecture due Mar. 24.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez lecture, Mar. 23

March 25, 2011 (Fri) Visser, Much Depends on Dinner (1986), 115-54.

March 28, 2011 (Mon) No class meeting. Brief Assignment for Capstone in Action due Mar. 30.

Capstone in Action: "How to Cook an Egg," Mar. 29, 4:00

March 30, 2011 (Wed) Workshop: Peer Review of capstone essay draft.

April 1, 2011 (Fri) Penultimate draft of capstone essay due.

April 4, 2011 (Mon) The History of Fudge, assignment t.b.a.

Capstone in Action: "Fudge," Apr. 5, 4:00

April 6, 2011 (Wed) No class meeting. Brief Assignment for Capstone in Action due Apr. 6.

April 8, 2011 (Fri) Student selected assignment t.b.a.; Review.

April 11, 2011 (Mon) Second exam.

April 13, 2011 (Wed) Workshop: Proofreading.

April 15, 2011 (Fri) Student selected workshop or assignment t.b.a.

Final draft of capstone essay due at the scheduled final exam time.