From “rage bakers” to tragic lobsters, from sushi chefs to pitmasters, and from Guy Fieri to M.F.K. Fisher, subjects in this seminar reveal the ways in which representations of food in the media shape discourse about modern American culture. Class readings combine media and cultural studies research with journalism, linguistics, history, literary analysis, gender studies, psychology, and folklore in order to explore the ways in which foods, including (but not limited to) General Tso’s chicken, industrially produced meat, and pumpkin pie have become part of the weft and weave of contemporary American social life. Class topics will center on the history of food advertising in America; the rise of the American cookbook industry; the uses and meanings of food on social media platforms; and the role of food in literature and on film. Ultimately, we analyze the ways in which representations of food and eating connect to and even drive social and political debates. The course emphasizes practical learning (short weekly writing prompts; film and textual analysis skills; and one final research-based project using primary and secondary sources).