Foodways: A Global History
General Catalog Course Title:
Comparative World History
Terms Offered:
Fall 2013
Spring 2013
Course Thread: 
Cultural Forms in Transit
McLennan, Rebecca
Frede, Victoria

We’ve all got to eat—but there, the consensus ends. Long before celebrity chefs, food TV, and the organic movement competed for our attention, food and the meanings attached to it were the subjects of controversy. Poets and painters, philosophers and bureaucrats, merchants and prophets explored why we eat what we eat and how we define, acquire, and consume food. Ways of preparing and consuming food affirmed bonds of kinship and community but also distinguished “us” from “them.” An object of cultural exchange and global trade, food also played a major role in colonization and conquest. This class explores key themes in food’s globalizing history, including the agricultural and culinary dimensions of the Columbian exchange; the role of food in European court culture and the “civilizing process”; the botanical, economic, and culinary legacies of Atlantic slavery; the rising global trade in luxury items such as wine; the industrialization and rationalization of food after 1800; and the so-called “Food Revolution” of the late 20th century.

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