COOL CLASSES: “Matters of Taste: France and its Culinary Culture”

In this course, students explore the rich culinary history of France and how it intersects with gender, identity, class, and politics.

Class name: “Matters of Taste: France and its Culinary Culture”

Taught by: Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies Kathryne Corbin

Says Corbin about her class:
The culinary culture of France is constructed from a rich fabric of narratives that sustain its very practice. What are those stories? How have they been shared over time? And by whom? In this course, we consider the discourse, indeed the language, that led to the emergence of French cuisine and the rise of gastronomy in the 19th century, and how it has evolved through the 20th century into the present day. Through representations of food in literature and film, as well as non-fiction works such as cookbooks, menus, and sociological and historical texts, this course explores why food is so central to French culture and the ways cuisine intersects with questions of gender, identity, class, and politics in the context of French society.

Corbin on why she wanted to teach this class:
In 2010, the “gastronomic meal of the French,” described as “a customary social practice for celebrating important moments in the lives of individuals and groups,” was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Since I read the dossier submitted to UNESCO, I have had so many questions about gastronomy and meals and “the French.” I created this class to look deeper into questions of identity and food. I also love to cook and to eat, and I think most students do, too, so everyone has something to contribute to making intercultural connections.

Corbin on what makes this class unique to her department:
For one, French 254 “French in English” is the only course offered in English. This course rotates among departmental faculty, each of us teaching a different subject in English. Mine is the only course in the department that focuses uniquely on cuisine.

​​Learn more about other courses offered by the Department of French & Francophone Studies.