amst498wsyllabus - Spring 2011 AMST498W Special Topics in...

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Spring 2011 AMST498W Special Topics in American Studies: Gender, Food, and Identity T R 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. PLS 1129 Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson Office: Holzapfel 1102 Office Hours - W 12:30-4:00; by appt Tel: 301-405-6931 Office Hours/Appts – Please feel absolutely free to contact me outside of class. I find working with students outside of class extremely useful and beneficial to both students and me. Aside from visiting me during my scheduled office hours or chatting after class, the best way to get in touch is e-mail ([email protected]). Please note: I check voice email on campus sporadically on weekends but am always accessible by email. Email: [email protected] Course Description The social relations of food have always and continue to be organized along gender lines. Regardless of their cultural background, women usually have the primary responsibilities of caring for children and of procuring, if not also preparing, food. This kind of “women’s work” is seen as an extension of a woman’s way of being or her femininity. Involvement with food constructs who we are (or are not) in complex, and sometimes contradictory, ways. For example, many women refuse or are reluctant to relinquish control over food preparation and procurement. At the same time these tasks have often been associated with gender inequality. Women are responsible for nourishing others, yet seldom do they take care to self-nourish. Women control most of the food-related decisions and perform the majority of the food-related work in their homes, but they have very little power in the public sphere (especially arenas of food policy and food industry). Why is this so? While gendered, food is also a symbolic marker of identity and belonging. How do popular culture representations reinforce gendered meanings of food? To what extent have men and women embraced, resisted, and/or revised these meanings—and why? How do various groups use food to define membership/nonmembership in a particular group? How is food used to claim status and/or to articulate a set of cultural values? How do particular foods and foodways practices help women and men adapt to historical change or take command of historical change? Another critical element of the intersection of gender, food, and identity is sustainability. This issue is one of the most theoretically and practically complex questions of our times. Involving far more than simply turning off lights and recycling, the implications are overarching including how and what we produce and consume; how we treat the land, sea, air, and atmosphere; how we approach our health and well-being, and more. The challenge of sustainability is its profoundly crosscutting nature; none of these questions can be addressed without consideration of the others. Several weeks of the course will be
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spent taking a brief yet mosaic approach to understanding this salient issue. Together, we will share and discuss the reading materials, participate in class by
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amst498wsyllabus - Spring 2011 AMST498W Special Topics in...

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