Call for Papers
Graduate Student Panel
“The Language of Food”
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Cornell University’s upcoming conference “The Language of Food: Exploring Representations of the Culinary in Culture” seeks papers for a graduate student panel on the entertainment value of food.
After consecutively earning three Michelin stars for two of his restaurants (The French Laundry and Per Se), Thomas Keller presented his restaurant group with a concept for a new restaurant under the banner of “a fun idea.” In his cookbook based on that restaurant, Keller had this to say of his plan: “we’d focus on dishes that represented the most important food of all to me, the food from our childhood… We could deepen our understanding of this food, we could try to perfect the family meal… It turned out to be a lot of fun,” he added.
The festival has long held special significance for anthropological considerations of food and eating. Writing in response to nutritionists and policy experts who treated festivities as illegitimate demands on the food system, Mary Douglas called attention to the stabilizing function of incorporative hospitality for persons with precarious employment (Food in the Social Order, 1984). There can be little doubt, though, that the festive dimension of food has in recent decades extended well beyond its role (1) in socially competitive contexts where agents strive to distinguish themselves from other social strata or (2) in socially incorporative contexts where agents attempt to guarantee sustenance through alternative distribution networks such as church potlucks. Keller’s cookbook Ad Hoc at Home offers just one example of how many are thinking about family meals: as something that can and should be fun. This trend appears to depart significantly from the rational-strategic framework in which home economists situated cooking from the 19th Century well into the 20th.
A graduate student panel at Cornell University’s conference “The Language of Food” will grapple with the following questions in an attempt to address shifts in the festive dimension of food and eating: When, why, and with what socio-cultural consequences did food and cooking become so much fun? Are gender roles still consequential in the kitchen or does culinary entertainment undermine these boundaries? How has the rise of the cooking show and star-chefs affected our culinary traditions? Can watching the Food Network or engaging in culinary tourism be reduced to strategies aimed at distinction and hence the production and reproduction of a dominant class? Or does the entertainment value of food force us to pose other questions regarding the structure of society and questions of taste?
The panel organizer seeks proposals for 20 minute presentations. Proposals of roughly 500 words should be sent to Timothy Haupt (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 1 January 2012.
Participants will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation.
Conference: “The Language of Food: Exploring Representations of the Culinary in Culture”
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