This seminar course aims to offer a historical perspective on the development of modern food systems, agrarian science and global cultures of taste and eating.
To understand the links between science and modern food cultures; evaluate the global connections in the formation of national cuisines; analyze how science and the food industry have shaped people’s ideas of taste, nutrition and aesthetics.
Looking at specific food and non-food commodities cultivated, developed and consumed across different regions in the world through the late 19th and 20th centuries, the course shall try to make sense of the aesthetic, economic and scientific assumptions inherent within the varied food palettes of our modern world. The course shall introduce students to the interlinked and overlapping histories of the development of modern agricultural science, the political economy of food production, distribution and consumption, and ideas of culinary aesthetics and national cuisines.
Students shall engage with the histories and debates around agricultural research, ideas of nutrition and hunger, questions of race, diversity and community belonging, and the troubled narratives of environment and sustainability in industrial agriculture. The course will utilize a combination of historical pamphlets and advertisements, newspaper accounts, as well as contemporary documentary films to engage with some of the core questions around the modern history of food cultures and agrarian science.