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Kenyon’s Finke, O’Neill Lead ACM Newberry Seminar on the History and Culture of Chicago Food

Published: September 8, 2021

Kenyon’s Finke, O’Neill Lead ACM Newberry Seminar on the History and Culture of Chicago Food

"Smorgasbord, Main Dining Room, Kungsholm." Curt Teich Postcard Archives Digital Collection (Newberry Library)

Kenyon College’s Laurie Finke and Rosemary O’Neill will co-direct the Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s 2022 Newberry Seminar, Food for Thought: Cooking, Eating, and Drinking in Chicago.

The ACM and Newberry Library have a long history of creative and effective partnership through the ACM Newberry Seminar: Research in the Humanities. This one-of-a-kind program, launched in 1965, has educated more than 1,300 students and continues to support up to 20 students per year to spend a term at the Newberry learning how to use original source materials for scholarly research.

"All of my most exciting discoveries as a researcher have been in some way archival discoveries, and I am excited to share that experience with students, as our course seeks to inspire them to make their own discoveries in the Newberry’s collections." Rosemary O'Neill, Co-Director

The fall 2022 seminar will explore the history and impact of food in Chicago, from the city's development as a center of agricultural commodity markets, through its role in the Great Migration and the culinary tradition of "soul food," to the restaurant industry as a center of immigration activism in today's Chicago.

The course will draw on the range and depth of the Newberry’s collections in a variety of areas—cookbooks, journals, ephemera from the 1893 World’s Fair, and the world-leading collections of records of Native American culture—while highlighting the experiences of diverse groups of people, including women, Native Americans, African Americans, and immigrants to the US from Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Alongside this archival work, the seminar will conduct visits to local restaurants, neighborhoods, architectural landmarks, museums, and archeological sites.

"I believe that the off-campus study experience is richer when students are immersed in learning about the place where they are living and studying. And food and drink are such an integral part of the sociality that makes places distinct." Laurie FinkeCo-Director

“I believe that the off-campus study experience is richer when students are immersed in learning about the place where they are living and studying. And food and drink are such an integral part of the sociality that makes places distinct," said Laurie Finke, professor of women's and gender studies at Kenyon. "I am excited to see how our exploration of the Newberry’s collections on food and drink map onto our exploration of the city, as students become wanderers in both the library and the city.”

Laurie Finke

Finke joined the Kenyon faculty in 1992 as its first tenure-track director of women's and gender studies after teaching English literature and feminist theory at Lewis & Clark College. She has published seven books, most recently Cinematic Illuminations: The Middle Ages on Film (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010). Her articles have appeared in Women's Studies, Studies in Medievalism, Theatre Survey, Signs, Theatre Journal, Exemplaria, Arthuriana and other journals. She is currently an editor of the Norton Anthology of Criticism and Theory. Besides teaching Kenyon's introductory course and senior colloquium in women's and gender studies, she teaches feminist theory, masculinities, gender and film, and queer studies.

Rosemary O'Neill

An associate professor of English, O’Neill focuses her research and teaching on the literature of later medieval England, with a particular interest on the intersection of literature with law, economics, and material culture. She is co-editing a collection of essays entitled Beer and Brewing in Medieval Culture and Contemporary Medievalism (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming) and has directed several previous off-campus study programs, including a program in 2021-2 in Exeter (UK). 

“More than any other methodology, working with original manuscript and print materials makes you feel like you are touching the past,” says O’Neill. “All of my most exciting discoveries as a researcher have been in some way archival discoveries, and I am excited to share that experience with students, as our course seeks to inspire them to make their own discoveries in the Newberry’s collections.”

Applications are accepted through March 15, 2022, and are open to college students at any four-year institution, including those from ACM campuses and in the Great Lakes Colleges Association.

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