Course Spotlight: Food & Visual Culture

Images, whether still or moving, are all around us and have become an increasing part of the modern landscape. The result of this proliferation of visual culture is that our understanding of the world is progressively mediated by images. So, not only have the products of visual media become more and more a part of our lives, but vision and seeing have become even more important to how we know and understand the world. But the visual does more than simply present the world to us, it can shape how we understand and relate to that world. Studying media, therefore, is a way for us to study ourselves and better understand our culture, our social and political values and our ideologies.

Within the past decade there has been a notable growth in food-related cultural activity on TV, in films, books and digital media (Twitter, websites, blogs, video games, etc.). Food has become, both figuratively and quite literally, more visible in our lives.  But what is behind this increased focus on food? And, how has it affected people’s expectations around how food is produced and eaten? What affect, if any, has it had on the way we eat and cook?

The goal of this course is to examine depictions of food and cooking within visual culture and to analyze the ways in which they reflect and shape our understanding of the meaning of food. To this end, we will explore how food and cooking are depicted as expressions of culture, politics and group or personal identity via a multitude of visual materials, including, but not limited to: TV programs, magazines, cook books, food packaging, advertising, photography, online and digital media, and works of art.

A good portion of class time will be given to discussing the readings in combination with participatory, in-depth analysis of the visual material. The class will also take a field trip to a food photography studio as well as a culinary tour of Boston’s Chinatown.

MET ML 671, Food and Visual Culture, will be offered during Summer Term 1 (May 22 to June 29, 2018) and will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 9:00 PM. Registration information can be found here.

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