University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Humanities Center

Cooking, Writing, and American Culture: A Conversation

Tuesday, March 31, 9-10:00 am, 10-10:30am Book signing

Livak Ball Room, UVM Davis Center, Burlington, VT

Coffee and Tea will be provided


“Once upon a time,” a food writer recently lamented, “food was about where you came from. Now, for many of us, it is about where we want to go – about who we want to be, how we choose to live.” Where we come from, where we want to go – such questions of identity and aspiration, traditionally the domain of literature and philosophy, have come now to govern discussions about breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
These questions, seemingly straightforward ones about sustenance and labor, are actually rich and complex inquiries about social organization, gender, craft, aesthetics, ethics, and more. For better or worse, the kitchen and the table have become sites of intense scrutiny, and food writing -- in a profusion of historical studies, newspaper and magazine columns and essays, cookbooks, memoirs, and blogs -- has become the hottest genre of cultural journalism, history, and criticism.
To ponder and reflect on these matters, we have assembled a panel of first-rate food writers:
Laura Shapiro, an award-winning New York-based journalist, is the author of the acclaimed cultural histories Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America and Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century.
Molly Stevens is a Vermont-based cookbook author, editor, and cooking teacher whose books All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art and All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking each won a James Beard Foundation Award and International Association of Culinary Professionals Awards.
Rowan Jacobsen, a Vermont-based writer whose work has appeared in Best Food Writing, is the author of Apples of Uncommon Character, American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields, and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Oyster Eating.
Moderating the panel will be John Gennari, Associate Professor of English and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, who teaches a UVM seminar called “Food, Writing, and American Culture,” and whose recent publications include the essay “The Knife and the Bread, the Brutal and the Sacred: Louis DeSalvo at the Family Table.”
Sponsored by the UVM Food Systems Graduate Program and the Humanities Center