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New Course Teaches Food Writing In Paris

Heights Staff

Published: Monday, December 9, 2013

Updated: Monday, December 9, 2013 03:12

“For most countries, food is at the center of culture,” said Lynne Christy Anderson of the English Department. “It oftentimes shapes and influences our cultural well-being and thinking.”

For the first time this summer, the English Department and the Office of International Programming (OIP) will be offering a food-writing course in Paris, France.

This four-week program will allow students to hone their creative writing styles, all while exploring the many aspects of food culture in the city of Paris. Students will have the opportunity to practice a variety of different writing styles, including blogs, reviews, food memoirs, and essays, all of which they will use to express their personal experiences of living in and around France’s food culture.

The course will consist of four classroom days, where students will participate in writing workshops, learning the “nuts and bolts,” as Anderson described, of food writing. There will also be opportunities for formal critique sessions where students can provide input on their peers’ writings.

A key component of the course will entail weekly field trips, where students will have the opportunity to explore the cultural importance of food in Paris. These trips will include ventures to the fresh market places, local restaurants and cafes, and newly popular food trucks. “I hope to take at least one field trip outside of Paris for an ethnic neighborhood food tour, probably to a local cheese maker,” Anderson said. “I also hope to include at least one cooking class during the course.”

The course will also include works from a variety of food critics, in particular those who specifically focus on French cuisine. The syllabus includes works from M.F.K. Fisher, David Lebovitz, and Julia Child. During classroom time, students will discuss and examine the writing styles of these authors and critics and how their experiences in Paris have shaped their appreciation for Parisian cuisine.

Students will not be graded on their individual writing pieces, but, they will compose a portfolio of works at the end of the trip that will be given to Anderson for a final grade, according to the course syllabus.

Students will also be encouraged to keep a blog during their time abroad. There, the students will be able to record their experiences to keep others informed of their travels. The blog will also be a place for them to practice their food writing.

The program is set to take place during the month of June, but the specific dates are not yet confirmed. There are no major restrictions, so any student from any grade is able to participate. The three-credit course will cover the Cultural Diversity core requirement. If a participant is indeed an English major or minor, the course can count as an elective. Although dormitory arrangements have not been completely decided, Anderson suspects that the students will live in a building that will host both their academic classrooms and their living quarters.

While Anderson does warn that the language barrier may be problematic for some participants, she does not discourage non-French speakers from participating. “[Knowing the language] will just help those participating in the program, maybe allowing them to do an interview or two at a restaurant or cafe,” Anderson said.

Anderson hopes that participants will leave Paris with a greater sense of how food constantly shapes and influences culture. “[Food] goes far beyond the table,” she said. “The table is connected to life, influencing love and war and shaping history. It symbolizes everything humans need and is so essential to life.” She also hopes students will leave with a greater understanding of critical writing, as well as a newfound appreciation for food writing.

 

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