ONLINE COURSE: Food and Power

I first developed this “Food and Power” course for an undergraduate classroom lecture series at KAIST in the Spring 2015. In Spring 2016 I created the online version to share with other food studies scholars, students, and anyone interested in diving deeper into the politics of food, including the cultural and technological features of our modern foodways that shape our choices at the supermarket.

The course is a work in process and an offline class I continue to teach periodically, so I welcome your thoughts on ways to improve it or new materials to add to it.

Download the COURSE SYLLABUS here.

Because of time constraints, some classes are offered in video while others in PDF only. (If you express interest, and should time permit, I’ll upload more I promise!)

I. Introduction [Posted: Friday, May 13th (CST)]
— pt. 1) Why food matters (now)? An intellectual and material history of food studies [VIDEO: 12 minutes]
— pt. 2) Introduction to two key course themes [VIDEO: 16 minutes]

—— Part 1: Ethical Eating —— [Posted: Friday, May 20th (CST)]
This first part of the course focuses on food as a moral and ethical subject, encouraging students to reframe personal ethical choices within broader collective and political contexts.

II. Hunger and Food Security
— pt. 1) Defining hunger as a problem [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 2) History of policy debates [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 3) Food aid as a policy problem [PDF of Lecture Slides]

III. Gluttony and Nutritionism
— pt. 1) How do you know what you know…? [VIDEO: 12 minutes]
— pt. 2) Nutritionism, a history [VIDEO: 18 minutes]
— pt. 3) Obesity and Healthism [VIDEO: 19 minutes]

Ethical Food Consumerism

• SCREENING: Buffet (documentary):

Assignment 1: Food Diary Experiment [see BLOG POST]

—— Part 2: What is Edible?—— [Posted: Saturday, May 28th (CST)]
This second section of the course explores the way in which food as a liminal object between body and environment is routinely the subject of cultural and political debates about purity and risk.

Food Taboos and Disgust [see BLOG POST]

IV. Mad Cow and Other Food Scares
— pt. 1) Meat and modernity [VIDEO: 22 minutes]
— pt. 2) The mad cow crisis in Britain [VIDEO: 18 minutes]
— pt. 3) Globalization of food scares [VIDEO: 19 minutes]

V. GM Foods
— pt. 1) Timeline of major events, players, and key concepts [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 2) Tech determinism v. ‘Luddites’… only two sides? [PDF of Lecture Slides]

Assignment 2: GM Food Profile

—— Part 3: Scale and Infrastructure —— [Posted: Sunday, June 5th (CST)]
In this third section we explore ways to think about the role of scale in debates about food, looking at the tools and technologies of foodways and infrastructures that make daily food production, distribution, and consumption possible.

VI. Accounting for Scale
— pt. 1) Scaling up food chains [VIDEO: 22 minutes]
— pt. 2) Food processing and the packaging revolution [VIDEO: 19 minutes]

School Lunch Programs

VII. Industrial versus “Authentic” Foods
— pt. 1) Rage against the Food Machine [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 2) “Authenticity” versus better tasting through chemistry [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 3) (How) Does “natural” matter? [PDF of Lecture Slides]

Global Products, Local Contexts

Assignment 3: Food Prep Person Interview

—— Part 4: Food and Imagination —— [Posted: Friday, June 10th (CST)]
In this final section we consider the role of imagination in shaping food culture through institutions such as marketing and branding, or future predictions about where innovations are taking food.

VIII. Marketing and Taste
— pt. 1) Learning “good taste”[VIDEO: 14 minutes]
— pt. 2) Wine: Terroir versus Taste-makers [VIDEO: 12 minutes]
— pt. 3) Coffee and class [VIDEO: 16 minutes]

Brands and Supermarkets

IX. Future Foods
— pt. 1) Past imaginations of future foods [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 2) Predictions: the present colonizing the future [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 3) Future foods today: What are your predictions? [PDF of Lecture Slides]

X. Conclusion: Lessons Beyond the Class(room) [PDF of Lecture Slides]

Final project: Final Assignment Guide

Subscribe to my YouTube page for more food studies or STS videos I’ve found useful for thinking about food.