Duke Immerse: 

A signature education initiative of Duke University

Imagining the Future of Food

Food, Culture and Society


The function of food in society is not limited to mere sustenance. Food is an important source of cultural information and social meaning. Drawing from texts in multiple disciplines, in this course we will examine foodstuffs (products) and foodways (practices and rituals revolving around food) to understand their cultural significance and to gain insight into culturally specific ways of thinking semiotically about food.  We will explore how identity, for instance, gender, ethnic, class, religious identities are constructed through food production, preparation and consumption. We will reflect on the role of food in our own lives and that of the contemporary United States, with attention to how foodways embody the experiences of local and immigrant communities in the Triangle area and in the US in general. Experiential learning approaches in and outside the classroom are an integral part of the course. These include field assignments, food logs, visits to food production, consumption and marketing sites (from farm to market, supermarket and convenience stores to “ethnic stores and eateries”, and food trucks and chain restaurants ) and a dinner lab where we will cook and share meals together. By the end of the course students will have a better understanding of the multiple meanings of food and its link to culture, politics, power and identity and will have acquired a broader perspective from which to engage with cultures other than their own. 


Fall 2021

Food, Culture, and Society
Crosslisting Numbers: 
  • CULANTH 389S-01
  • ITALIAN 388S-01
  • SOCIOL 388S-01
Curriculum Codes: