137 episodes

Interviews with Food Writers about their New Books

New Books in Food New Books Network

    • Food
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Interviews with Food Writers about their New Books

    Jessica Martell, "Farm to Form: Modernist Literature and Ecologies of Food in the British Empire" (U Nevada Press, 2020)

    Jessica Martell, "Farm to Form: Modernist Literature and Ecologies of Food in the British Empire" (U Nevada Press, 2020)

    In this this interview, Carrie Tippen talks with Jessica Martell about her new book, Farm to Form: Modernist Literature and Ecologies of Food in the British Empire, published in 2020 by University of Nevada Press for their Cultural Ecologies of Food series.
    In Farm to Form, Martell contextualizes some familiar texts of British Literary Modernism, into a history that recognizes the role of food and agriculture not just in the social fabric that these writers were living in and often writing against but also the role that these industries played in determining how writers experimented with literary forms. Food isn’t just in the content of the novels analyzed, but as Martell argues, responses to food systems are reflected in the experiments in form that are a hallmark of literary modernism. If the Modernist era is “a spectacle of lived unevenness,” food (its presence and absence) is particularly good at exposing unevenness and inequity. Martell’s historicizing makes clear that the average British subject was most directly experiencing the projects of imperialism at the table. Each chapter focuses on a particular aspect of the emerging modern food system as reflected in specific texts. The overproduction of rural milk for urban markets is reflected in the overripeness of landscapes in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and the collapsing of time and space brought on by technologies of freezing and canning are reflected in the anachronism of E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway bears the marks of wartime rationing and total war on civilians. Joseph Conrad’s images of starving colonial laborers and fat colonizers demonstrates a critique of the “metabolism of empire” that gobbles energy with terrifying efficiency, while James Joyce’s infamous formal and textual excess is a direct response to the Famine and a representation of Ireland as empty and hungry, simultaneously overpopulated and drained by migration. Martell’s central argument is that an understanding of the rapidly changing and visibly uneven experience of modern food industries can offer fresh insights into experiments of literary form.
    Jessica Martell is assistant professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Appalachian State University. She is the also the co-editor of Modernism and Food Studies: Politics, Aesthetics, and the Avant-Garde (University Press of Florida, 2019). Martell serves on the executive board of Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, a woman-led non-profit helping to build an equitable and sustainable food system in the North Carolina High Country.
    Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Gastronomica, Food and Foodways, American Studies, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society.
     
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    • 1 hr 16 min
    Brian R. Dott, "The Chile Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    Brian R. Dott, "The Chile Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    In China, chiles are everywhere. From dried peppers hanging from eaves to Mao’s boast that revolution would be impossible without chiles, Chinese culture and the chile pepper have been intertwined for centuries. Yet, this was not always the case.
    In The Chile Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography (Columbia University Press, 2020), Brian Dott explores the evolution of the chile pepper from an obscure foreign import to a ubiquitous plant regarded by most Chinese as native to the land. He details the myriad uses of chile peppers in late imperial China, not just as a central ingredient in Sichuanese cuisine, but also as a miraculous cure for (get this…) hemorrhoids. By the turn of the 20th century, the chile pepper had transformed itself into a powerful symbol of prosperity, virility, and passion.
    Brian joins us to discuss, among other things, the challenges of translating classical Chinese, the difficulty of locating primary sources and what the chile pepper meant to Mao Ze Dong.
    Brian R. Dott is associate professor of history at Whitman College. He is the author of Identity Reflections: Pilgrimages to Mount Tai in Late Imperial China (2004).
    Joshua Tham is an undergraduate reading History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His interests include economic history, sociolinguistics, and the "linguistic turn" in historiography.
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    • 1 hr 21 min
    Lauren F. Klein, "An Archive of Taste: Race and Eating in the Early United States" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)

    Lauren F. Klein, "An Archive of Taste: Race and Eating in the Early United States" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)

    There is no eating in the archive. This is not only a practical admonition to any would-be researcher but also a methodological challenge, in that there is no eating—or, at least, no food—preserved among the printed records of the early United States. Synthesizing a range of textual artifacts with accounts (both real and imagined) of foods harvested, dishes prepared, and meals consumed, An Archive of Taste: Race and Eating in the Early United States (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) reveals how a focus on eating allows us to rethink the nature and significance of aesthetics in early America, as well as of its archive.
    Klein considers eating and early American aesthetics together, reframing the philosophical work of food and its meaning for the people who prepare, serve, and consume it. She tells the story of how eating emerged as an aesthetic activity over the course of the eighteenth century and how it subsequently transformed into a means of expressing both allegiance and resistance to the dominant Enlightenment worldview. Klein offers richly layered accounts of the enslaved men and women who cooked the meals of the nation’s founders and, in doing so, directly affected the development of our national culture—from Thomas Jefferson’s emancipation agreement with his enslaved chef to Malinda Russell’s Domestic Cookbook, the first African American–authored culinary text.
    The first book to examine the gustatory origins of aesthetic taste in early American literature, An Archive of Taste shows how thinking about eating can help to tell new stories about the range of people who worked to establish a cultural foundation for the United States.
    Diana DePasquale is an Associate Teaching Professor at Bowling Green State University. She teaches courses on race, gender, sexuality, and American culture. Diana has been published in Studies in American Humor, and online at In Media Res. She is also a proud winner of The Moth Story Slam in Detroit. 
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    • 51 min
    K. Keeling and S. Pollard, "Table Lands: Food in Children's Literature" (U Mississippi Press, 2020)

    K. Keeling and S. Pollard, "Table Lands: Food in Children's Literature" (U Mississippi Press, 2020)

    In this this interview, Carrie Tippen talks Kara Keeling and Scott Pollard about their new book, Table Lands: Food in Children's Literature, published June 2020 by University of Mississippi Press.
    Table Lands contributes to a growing body of scholarship in the subfield of literary food studies, which combines the methods of literary analysis with the interdisciplinary theories of food, culture, and identity. Keeling and Pollard explain that they were first interested in food in children’s literature as symbols or metaphors, but in Table Lands, they have complicated their understanding of these moments as important cultural work. The didactic nature of children’s literature makes the genre a unique window into processes of cultural and identity creation as children learn manners, morals, food taboos, and appropriate behavior through the rewards and punishments doled out to fictional characters.
    Arranged roughly chronologically, the chapters explore food as a cultural signifier in familiar texts for children like Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit, and Little House on the Prairie, along with some less canonical texts like 19th century cookbooks for children and Alice Waters’ books about her daughter Fanny. They range from the edgy YA series of Weetzie Bat novels to Maurice Sendak’s picture book In the Night Kitchen and the hit animated Disney-Pixar film Ratatouille. The book also attempts to represent the diversity of children’s literature in the US. The authors argue that Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark novels actively write against The Little House books which devalue, misunderstand, and erase indigenous culture to offer a counternarrative of the American West focused on Native American experiences of land stewardship and relationships to food. Similarly, the final chapter devoted to Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again argues that Lai is writing against the representation of the refugee experience written by non-Vietnamese authors for non-Vietnamese audiences, revising and refuting what they call the “gratitude narrative” expected of refugees. Throughout Table Lands, Keeling and Pollard contextualize literary characters’ experiences with food into relevant literature on how food shapes the practice and performance of identity in everyday life. 
    Kara Keeling and Scott Pollard are Professors of English at Christopher Newport University. Kara is Director of the Childhood Studies Minor and teaches courses on Children’s and Young Adult literature. Scott teaches courses in World Literature and Food in Literature. Together they have authored a number of articles on the subject and edited the 2011 essay collection Critical Approaches to Food in Children’s Literature from Routledge.
    Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Gastronomica, Food and Foodways, American Studies, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society.
     
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Emily Pawley, "The Nature of the Future: Agriculture, Science, and Capitalism in the Antebellum North" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    Emily Pawley, "The Nature of the Future: Agriculture, Science, and Capitalism in the Antebellum North" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    The nostalgic mist surrounding farms can make it hard to write their history, encrusting them with stereotypical rural virtues and unrealistically separating them from markets, capitalism, and urban influences. The Nature of the Future: Agriculture, Science, and Capitalism in the Antebellum North (University Of Chicago Press) aims to remake this staid vision.
    Emily Pawley examines a place and period of enormous agricultural vitality—antebellum New York State—and follows thousands of “improving agriculturists,” part of the largest, most diverse, and most active scientific community in nineteenth-century America. Pawley shows that these improvers practiced a kind of science hard for contemporary readers to recognize, in which profit was not only a goal but also the underlying purpose of the natural world.
    Far from producing a more rational vision of nature, northern farmers practiced a form of science where conflicting visions of the future landscape appeared and evaporated in quick succession. Drawing from environmental history, U.S. history, and the history of science, and extensively mining a wealth of antebellum agricultural publications, The Nature of the Future uncovers the rich loam hiding beneath ostensibly infertile scholarly terrain, revealing a surprising area of agricultural experimentation that transformed American landscapes and American ideas of expertise, success, and exploitation.
    New Books Network listeners can purchase The Nature of the Future for 25% off using the coupon code PAWLEY here.
    Emily Pawley is Associate Professor of History at Dickinson College. Twitter.
    Brian Hamilton is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he is researching African American environmental history. He lives in Western Massachusetts and teaches at Deerfield Academy. Twitter. Website.
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    • 1 hr 3 min
    Emily Wallace, "Road Sides: An Illustrated Companion to Dining and Driving in the American South" (U Texas Press, 2019)

    Emily Wallace, "Road Sides: An Illustrated Companion to Dining and Driving in the American South" (U Texas Press, 2019)

    In this this interview, Carrie Tippen talks with Emily Wallace, author and illustrator of the new book Road Sides: An Illustrated Companion to Dining and Driving in the American South (University of Texas Press, 2019).
    Road Sides pays homage to popular travel guides with its short chapters, one for each letter of the alphabet containing a brief contextualizing essay followed by a feature of a specific location, business, or product. “A” is for Architecture, a tribute to buildings in the shape of foods one might find on the highway; “B” is for Billboards, their ubiquity and creativity and sometimes, as in the case of the “South of the Border” billboards, racial insensitivity.
    Road Sides is clearly aimed at a general audience of readers with its journalistic style of participant observation and whimsical illustrations, but Wallace makes use of her folklore training and scholarly connections in both the historical contextualizing of automobile culture and the critical lens with which she points out the good, the bad, and the ugly of Southern history and practice.
    While Road Sides is certainly a celebration of Southern foodways, it is not without criticism. A thread runs throughout the book that there is not a single story of Southern road travel. Wallace is careful to remind readers that before the civil rights era, there are two very distinct experiences for black and white Southerners, and after the ostensible end of racial segregation in public spaces, a third story emerges that changes the experience for all travelers.
    Wallace addresses these disparate narratives most directly in “D” for Directions, focusing on the Negro Motorist Green-Book that ran counter to the Official Automobile Blue Book for white travelers, and in V for Vacancy, about the black-owned hotels that catered to black travelers.
    Similarly, in a chapter about the crossroads general store, Wallace reminds readers that Emmett Till was murdered after an encounter with white people in such a store. What emerges from this wide-ranging investigation is an story of innovation, both technological and entrepreneurial, about the creative minds who came up with a new product or process or marketing strategy to adapt to a world that is changed irrevocably by car travel.
    Emily Wallace is a writer and illustrator with a masters in folklore who serves as art director & deputy editor of Southern Cultures Quarterly at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has written and illustrated work for other publications including The Washington Post, Southern Living, The Oxford American, and GOOD. In 2015, Wallace was nominated for a James Beard Award in humor writing.
    Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Gastronomica, Food and Foodways, American Studies, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society.
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    • 50 min

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