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Centers of Excellence

Culture and Gastronomy

Project coordinator: Lawrence D. Kritzman

Total costs of the project: $121.830
Embassy of France support: $15.336

Summary of the Project

In American universities the teaching of French is facing two different challenges: the restructuring of academic interests around interdisciplinary research and programs, and the need for a broader understanding of French in a global context. The major goal of the Institute of French Cultural Studies is to allow advanced graduate students and Assistant professors of French to partake in contemporary cultural debates on both sides of the Atlantic and to prepare them to supplement the programmatic needs of French departments in developing interdisciplinary courses taught in French.

The 2013 Summer Institute of French Cultural Studies is aimed at revitalizing and enriching the teaching of French in an interdisciplinary context. "Culture and Gastronomy" will be the focal theme of the Institute to be held at Dartmouth in the summer of 2013. French culture has long placed, and continues to place great store by talk that considers, critiques, and comments on food and its role in setting the norms and the institution of everyday life. This theme puts special emphasis on the study of gastronomy from cultural, social, political and artistic perspectives. As a cultural practice gastronomy encompasses ancestral or ritualistic traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as questions of pleasure. These issues will be examined both historically (middle ages to the present) and globally (the francophone world) by focusing on topics relating to literature, history, philosophy, ethnography, sociology, and psychoanalysis.

Topics such as the French invention of modern cuisine will be explored in detail. Participants will follow the development of French cuisine from the elaborate banquets of the 17th century, to the codification and rationalization of the cuisine and the professionalization of cooking in the 19th century, from private banquet to the public restaurant.  French cuisine had its greatest impact, beyond France, for it came to act as the culinary consciousness and conscience of the West. Its sauces and its kitchen organization, its standards and its norms, its institutions and its attitudes configured our modern food world. In brief, French cuisine offered the model for modern cuisine in the West.

Some of the following questions will be explored: history of the restaurant in France; food, talk and French culture; the French invention of modern cuisine; the sociology of food and wine; Brilliat Savarin and Escofier; the literature of hunger and appetite (Balzac, Zola); visual representations of food in medieval texts; Rabelais, popular culture and food; renaissance cooking practices in France in literary representations; food and Enlightenment thought; eating, psychoanalysis, and pleasure: Proust and Sartre; the translation of French culinary practices and the francophone world; Levi-Strauss’ Le cru et le cuit and the phenomenology of food in the francophone world.

     Directed by Lawrence Kritzman (Dartmouth) this institute will examine the disciplinary boundaries and pedagogical practices in the teaching of French and Francophone culture in the foreign language classroom by pairing prominent scholars from a variety of fields and different institutions of higher learning from both sides of the Atlantic. In addition several French chefs will visit Dartmouth. The faculty as of today will include scholars from the United States and France: Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson (Columbia); Claude Fischler (Ecole des Hautes Etudes); Yves Hersant (Ecole des Hautes Etudes); Alexandre Leupin (LSU); Stephen Nichols (Johns Hopkins University); Florent Quellier (Université de Tours); Adelaide Russo (LSU); Albert Sonnenfeld (USC); and one other to be named. Those giving guest lectures and special seminars will include: Emily Jane Cohen (Stanford); Vincent Debaene (Columbia University); Adam Gopnik (The New Yorker); Domna Stanton (CUNY Graduate Center); Bill Yosses (White Hourse Chief Pastry Chef with an advanced degree in French Studies) and possibly Jacques Pepin.

      The 2013 Institute will provide an opportunity for approximately twenty five participants (advanced graduate students preparing for careers in French and non tenured faculty) from French departments in the US to interact with some of the most distinguished scholars of French and Francophone literature, history and society, ethnography the visual arts, philosophy, psychoanalysis and mathematics. in order to set new directions in the study and teaching of French culture by examining cultural practices relating to food from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives. The 2013 institute will include daily sessions by institute faculty, guest lectures and weekly workshops devoted to practical application for classroom use and curriculum development based on French language materials used in an interdisciplinary context.

The institute will run from June 17 to July 18 2013. Seminars will take place Monday through Friday, 930 to 1230. Pedagogy seminar will take place on Thursday afternoons. Guess lectures will be reserved for late afternoon.

The work of the institute has enabled graduate students to get jobs in universities and colleges because of their ability to develop innovative interdisciplinary courses taught in French. The object of the institute is to disseminate these new pedagogical practices in a variety of departments of French and other departments in the various regions of the United States.