As the field of Food Studies continues to stretch and evolve, the ways in which scholars and students approach food, food culture, and food systems grow ever more diverse. Our understanding of food now brings together the physical, human, and social sciences, the humanities, arts, and design, and myriad aspects of media studies, communications, and representation. Throughout these overlapping and complementary approaches, food itself remains constant—an object and a process, a lens and an outcome.
But what is “food itself”? And how do the relationships between food and humans affect our ways of creating and showing knowledge? This openly published textbook will unpack these questions by foregrounding, in turns, the substances, discourses, and processes related to food.
FOOD STUDIES: Matter, Meaning & Movement will bring together a collection of material to support undergraduate learning about food and food systems, from introductory survey courses to upper-year seminars and theme-specific study. Each contribution will address one of the three ‘elements’ of food—matter, meaning, or movement—while also demonstrating the ways in which these elements remain entangled. Contributors may propose submissions in one of three formats: Perspectives, which take a broad, top-down approach to a given theme; Cases / Field Notes, which focus on specific food realities, projects, or challenges using a grounded or practice-based approach; and Creative Works, which illuminate or illustrate food theory, practice, methods, or outcomes through words, images, graphics, or a combination of media. (See Submission Guidelines below for complete descriptions.) Supplemental pedagogic tools (exercises, discussion questions, online resources, etc.) will complement each chapter and section, and submissions of all formats may include multimedia elements.
FOOD STUDIES: Matter, Meaning & Movement will be published as an open educational resource (OER), with the support of the Carleton University Food and Media Hub. The book will be subject to rigorous peer review, while also following stringent accessibility standards and community-adoption guidelines.
FOOD STUDIES: Matter, Meaning & Movement is conceived as a multimedia textbook for undergraduate university and college students. As a whole, it may be useful for first-year survey or introduction courses, while specific sections (and/or possible future editions) may be used within more disciplinarily focused or practice-specific upper-year courses.
Three broad themes and three editorial formats frame the book, conceptually and organizationally.
Matter, meaning, and movement relate to the nature of food itself. For humans to understand food as food, each of these elements must be present. In other words, food is composite, a construct of substances (plant/animal tissue, minerals, tools of transformation, packaging, etc.), discourse (language/symbols, conceptual significance, images both mental and mediatized, etc.), and processes (eco-transformational, biochemical, chemophysical, interactive/relational, perceptual, etc.) Were it possible to remove one of these elements, we might be left with edible substance, or sensory concept, or culinary gesture, but not with a thing that we would understand as “food.”
Within this framing, we invite contributors and readers to think about the wholeness of food, and about what happens when we ‘parse’ matter/substance, meaning/discourse, and movement/process. Different academic communities and practitioners habitually do this—that is, foreground one or another of these elements. While this may be useful within a discipline, it also may create false distinctions that do not effectively respond to the whole-system challenges that Food Studies scholars often address. Nonetheless, by intentionally parsing food and then demonstrating ways to reintegrate it, we may acquire a stronger understanding of food-related complexity, and from there, discover new opportunities when it comes to learning about and researching food. Users of this OER may then be better prepared for a long-term, cross-disciplinary, cross-community engagement with their subject.
The three editorial formats of this book—Perspectives, Cases / Field Notes, and Creative Works—are intended to invite a diverse range of text/media contributions that can link conceptually or digitally to other contributions within the volume. For the electronic formats of this OER, it is intended that each contribution will include hyperlinks to others, providing learners with the ability to find examples that relate illustrations to theory to specific cases to narratives.
Perspectives are intended to synthesize a conceptual or broad set of understandings about food, introducing an area of practice, study, or attention. While more abstract than Cases, Perspectives nevertheless need to enable practical understanding of food theory, while pointing to ways in which theory is actualized. Perspectives should give readers a global understanding of the subject at hand, without necessarily defining or delimiting the scope and/or heterogeneity of the subject. Perspectives should range in length from 1000 to 3000 words.
Cases / Field Notes are intended to provide specific examples of Food Studies research or practice that demonstrate how lived experience and theorizations come together. They should also demonstrate clear connections between theory and practice, as well as the ways in which theory and practice inform and modify one other (particularly in our field). Cases should clarify broad themes within Food Studies, without limiting the potential for those themes to be understood in other ways. Cases should range in length from 500 to 2000 words.
Creative Works may include textual, graphic, audio, video, or interactive content. These pieces are intended to illustrate abstractions while nonetheless inviting reflection and questioning—i.e., by offering prompts to the reader to subjectively interpret a given Perspective or Case. Creative Works should stimulate speculation and potentially provoke contradiction or messiness, while also activating emotional-affective responses within readers. Creative Works can range in format and length, but not exceed more than 1500 words overall.
In addition to the contributions noted above, each section of the OER will include pedagogical tools, such as exercises, prompting questions, quiz questions, links to additional resources, and other material. We welcome submissions in this area as well.
We invite all those interested in contributing to FOOD STUDIES to fill out this Google Form, expressing their theme, format, and keywords. The editors will then follow up, indicating next steps. Please note the deadlines below.
Dec. 23 - expressions of interest submitted (via Google Form)
Jan. 5 - editor follow up
Feb. 15 - submissions due
Apr. 15 - feedback to contributors
May 15 - revisions due; peer review initiated