ENG395-AMS384: Literature, Food, and the American Racial Diet Cook-off

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Course Description Professor Anne Cheng, Department of English and American Studies

Food, like books, can sustain and celebrate life. But also like books, food can serve as an agent and expression for discipline, fear, hunger, and loss. It is the site of our greatest consumption of and yet also most vulnerable encounter with “otherness.” This course explores both the joyful and the dark sides of eating and traces how “taste” informs the various ways in which we ingest the world and specifically “racial otherness.” We will explore the various connections, both philosophically and materially, between food and race. We will study how American consumption (domestic and abroad) can be avid and stingy. We will consider how the meeting  of food and word (in novels, poems, plays, and the cinema) inform large social categories such as the nation, gender, race, ecology, internationalism, family, and, finally, the elusive yet endlessly seductive notion of sophistication. This course approaches the American diet through a comparative racial-ethnic framework,  including works from Asian American, African American, Jewish American, and Latino cultural producers. We will also venture into some World Literature,  representing the Asian and African diaspora.

Feast Description Smitha Haneef, Executive Director, Campus Dining

The Princeton Annual Feast, a tasting event designed to explore the relationship between food, literature, and American racial history/culture. Students from ENG 395/AMS 384/GSS 301 will develop recipes and cook dishes based on their research into the relationship that food culture (broadly conceived as  including kinds of food, ideas of taste, rituals surrounding food, aspects of American foodways, environmentalism, history of food, and more) bears to American racial dynamics then and now. The goal is to combine practice with research, to encounter food as material and as a critical site for racial reflection.