Feed Your Mind….and Your Stomach

By Kathryn Brackett ’03

Food is a necessity of life, but it’s also important in the classroom. During the upcoming Spring Term, Dr. Corrie Norman will offer a junior seminar course entitled ‘s Food, Meaning, and the Sacred. The course, which will be based upon her highly successful freshman course during last year’s Fall Term, will explore the relationships between food and religious traditions around the world. The interdisciplinary course pays special attention to gender ideologies and women’s history, particularly balancing theoretical and experiential approaches to food. This learning opportunity is intended to be stimulating, engaging, and maybe even a little fattening.

During the freshman course, students participated in thorough discussions based on various reading assignments, but they also tested their appetites with a range of cuisines that apply to course themes. They expanded their taste buds with Afghani bread, Japanese tea, and even BBQ made by a notable pitmaster. Converse students also explored the foods of religious communities like Cambodian Buddhists, Greek Orthodox, and African American Baptists. The course concluded with a chocolate tasting, based on analysis of two recent novels. To experience religious foodways firsthand, students participated in excursions, such as attending ethnic festivals and ceremonies.

Much like the freshman course, the upcoming junior honors seminar will be designed to feed and challenge the student’s mind. Strong working skills, proficiency on assignments, active participation, but most importantly an open mind, is greatly encouraged. Through intensive study and observation, students learn to view food not only as a necessity of life, but also as a useful category in understanding religious belief and cultural practices around the world.

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