220A Agate Hall 346-3750
Office hours: Wed, 1-2, Thurs 1-3. Or by appointment, or drop by. I'm around quite a bit.
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Prerequisites: J361 or J432 or permission of instructor
This page can be found at http://journalism.uoregon.edu/~jrussial/j463/
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Far-Flung and Well-Fed: The Food Writing of R.W. Apple
(This is out of print, but the bookstore got a handful of copies.) It's readily available on Amazon. I've put two copies on reserve in the Student Services trailer behind Agate Hall.
The course is a broad-based exploration of writing about food. Good food writing reflects good reporting, and this class will focus on both reporting and writing.
The possibilities for stories are almost endless. In this region alone, there are interesting trends involving farm-to-table movements, winegrowing and winemaking, amateur and professional brewing, artisan production of cheese, meats, and other foods, home gardening, etc. There are trends, such as community supported agriculture (CSAs) and community gardens. There are stories about work in the food trades and industries--profiles of chef, cooks, innovators and growers.
Writers can look at food from such diverse perspectives as culture, politics, commerce and science. Food is a business for many, a career for some. Stories about food range from quick-hit pieces about a new restaurant in town or a new food entrepreneur to multi-part long-form series that look deeply into issues involving food production, consumption and safety. Several of these have won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism. For example, The Oregonian won a Pulitzer in 1999 for a series called The French Fry Connection, which looked at the journey of potatoes from the Northwest to McDonald's French fries in Asia as an example of the interconnected global economy.
To explore some of these areas, I'm planning to bring in visitors and have Skype interviews with folks involved in different aspects of food. I'm not seeing this as a class primarily about restaurant reviewing, though that might be a part of it. I'm expecting students to be writing a variety of stories and, if there's interest, in doing some still photos and video. We can create a web site if we want. I taught the Cyberjournalism class for years, and we produced an original web site for each class.
Because this class is a new one, it will be a work in progress. Your suggestions about what aspects of food writing you're interested in will help make the class a success. Also, if you have ideas about interesting people to talk with, let me know
Class meets from 10 to 11:50 Tuesday and Thursday in Agate 204A.
Attendance is important. Classes will be a mix of discussion, review of stories and visitors. If you are going to miss a class, I need to know in advance. If I do not find out before the class, it may affect your evaluation grade.
There will be a mix of assignments, including, most likely, a profile, an issue piece, a story about an ethnic food and its place in a specific culture, a story about trends in food production, an interview with a cook or chef.
Grades will primarily be based on stories written. Twenty percent of the grade is based on class participation and attendance. Grading will be based on criteria of publishability.
Note the word tentative
Week 1: (April 3, 5)
Thursday: Food writing as reporting, types of food stories, especially short profiles
Short food stories to read for Thursday:
Week 2: (April 10, 12)
Tuesday--profiles and sketches Skype interview with a cook, who also happens to be my daughter.
Week 3: (April 17, 19)
Food and Culture
Local and regional flavor
Going to the source
Visitors Readings--From R.W. Apple book:
Week 4: (April 24, 26)
More Food and Culture Tastes of Home, ethnic foods, holidays
What food means to people from different cultures and places
Readings-- from R.W. Apple:
Week 5: (May 1, 3)
Wine, beer, etc.
A growing option, but not an easy career.
The science of food production--the chemistry of beer-, winemaking and whiskey. Trends: Home brewing and wine-making
From R.W. Apple:
Week 6: (May 8, 10)
The restaurant trade Cooking as a career, culinary education
Food as a business, the shift to catering and other specializations
R.W. Apple-Stalking the Wild Morel...p 109-17.
Week 7: (May 15, 17)
Food and politics
Genetically modified crops--issues of intellectual property and lobbying power, monoculture and disease resistance, irradiated food, the organic movement
Readings--Pollan--In Defence of Food--Part 1 (The Age of Nutritionism)
Tuesday, may 15, Visit to LCC culinary program. Meet in class at 10 (don't be late), and we'll carpool over to Lane. We'll be back before noon.
Assignment: Find a food article you really like. Send me a link, or provide hard copy, and I can scan it for presentation. Write a paragraph or two about why you think the article is good. Due May 17. We can discuss some or most of these in class on Thursday. The following are links I've received:
Week 8: (May 24, 26)
Local sourcing (King Estate restaurant); Artisan trends. Reaction to a large degree to the criticisms seen in the Pollan book.
Wheat farming, raising pork, cheeses, etc....
Week 9: (May 31, June 2)
Food and health
Issues with allergies, food intolerances
Gluten, dairy, etc. Do-it-yourselfers
Backyard chicken-raising, organic gardening
Week 10: (June 7, 9)
Food writing Impact of the web, Yelp and other review sites, etc...