This is most recent syllabus. Your final syllabus will be given during your first day of class
Note: This is an elective course in the Food & Sustainability Studies Program (FSSP). Students do not need to be in the FSSP to enroll. However, priority will be given to FSSP students.
In the last twenty years, historians have turned with ever more interest to food as a key for understanding the past. Italy is particularly interesting in this respect. Modern Italian identity is based, in large part, on food. Many Italian ‘staples’, including gelato, olive oil, pasta, pizza, risotto, and wine, have interesting stories that give insights into Italian culture and history. Our historical review will look at Italian food in prehistory, antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and more recent times.
This four-credit class will feature not only more conventional Powerpoint based lectures, but also an extensive schedule of field trips and food tastings. You will gain a deeper understanding of Italy’s modern food culture with a series of seven food tastings, each a kind of culinary practicum that combines history and biochemistry with sampling a wide variety of foods or beverages. The food products that are the subject of the tastings are coffee, wine, olive oil, bread, gelato, and cheese.
- Have a solid understanding of the role of food in Italian culture
- Gain understanding of the emerging discipline of ‘food history’
- Have an idea of the general sweep of Italian history
- Come into intimate contact with primary historical sources, assessing them in both class discussions and thei writing
Mandatory course reader
- You will take a day trip to Florence to visit a market, take part in a historical cooking class, and explore an ancient pharmacy to learn about medicinal characteristics of food.
- At his agriturismo home in Città di Castello, Matteo Bartolini will lead you on a truffle hunt day trip.
- You will travel to Parma and Modena for a three-day field trip where they will tour an authentic Parmesan cheese cooperative, learn how balsamic vinegar is made, and see the process of making prosciutto.