Workshop 2: Foodways Rhetorics
Steven Alvarez and Casey Kelly
Recently, leading humanities-based research institutions in the United States have founded degrees, fellowships, working groups, cluster hires, and publication outlets to facilitate scholarship and courses of study that unpack the political, economic, and cultural significance of foodways. Across a variety of disciplines in the humanities (anthropology, history, communication, cultural studies) food studies inquiries reveal the ways in which performance studies, rhetoric, and anthropology intersect at the axis of the playful and the political, offering insights into how our engagements with food reflect and construct our notions of culture, personal wellbeing, and social belonging. As an academic discipline concerned with language as symbolic action and how symbol usage structures the social, political, and economic relations within public culture, rhetorical studies of foodways might enrich our understanding of the processes by which humans reify the divide between nature and culture, and how the intimate processes of producing and consuming food ground our notions of race, class, and nation.
The workshop will proceed along three lines. First, we will look at important work in foodways (Bourdieu; Douglas; Levi-Strauss; the Southern Foodways Alliance) and representative readings from food studies (Bruner & Frye; Greene; Peña et al.; Pilcher; Rice; Shugart), focusing on how food studies impact questions of rhetoric, persuasion, and composition, as well as how rhetoric might speak back to food studies. Second, participants will submit brief proposals for their own foodways-oriented projects, and time will be devoted to collaborative feedback. These projects can range from scholarly research to a variety of foodways studies. Third, we will close out the workshop by charting future research questions, problems, and directions for foodways in rhetoric and composition.