Comp Lit R1:12
“The mouth, tongue, and teeth find their primitive territoriality in food. In giving themselves over to the articulation of sounds, the mouth, tongue, and teeth deterritorialize. Thus, there is a certain disjunction between eating and speaking, and even more, despite all appearances, between eating and writing.” So write Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. In this course, we will explore the disjunctions and connections between food, eating, speaking, and writing. How does eating extend beyond its bodily function to express and influence social relations, cultural and religious practices, aesthetic experience, and political and ethical considerations?
Through examining texts in which food or the act of eating plays a central role, we will consider 1) the relationship between food, pleasure, and rituals of society; 2) literary and cultural appropriations of gastronomic metaphors, such as cannibalism, raw and cooked cultures, and analogies of consumption, digestion, and circulatory networks; 3) the political and ethical tensions embedded in what we choose to eat and how our food is produced.
This course will also focus on developing students’ critical reading and analytical essay writing skills. Students should be prepared to participate actively in class discussion and group work. Assignments will range from shorter written analyses and creative responses to two argumentative essays based on careful textual analysis, one 6-page paper and one 10-page research paper.
“Poor Man’s Pudding” and “Rich Man’s Crumbs,” Herman Melville
The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (excerpt), Alice B. Toklas
“Food” poems from Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein
The Book of Salt, Monique Truong
The Civilizing Process (excerpt), Norbert Elias
The Raw and the Cooked (excerpt), Claude Lévi-Strauss
“Of Cannibals,” Michel de Montaigne
“The Cannibalist Manifesto,” Oswald de Andrade
The Futurist Cookbook (excerpt), F.T. Marinetti
“A Hunger Artist,” Franz Kafka
“The Philosophers and the Animals,” J.M. Coetzee
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
Selected essays by MFK Fisher
The Physiology of Taste (excerpt), Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Macunaíma, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade
Tampopo, Juzo Itami
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