Skip to main content

Fall 2020: Food for Thought


Postcard drawing of Native Americans making noise to scare off birds in a cornfield

"Guarding the corn." Edward E. Ayer Digital Collection (Newberry Library)

This interdisciplinary seminar explores how the production, transportation, and preparation of food transformed urban landscapes in the Midwest since the time of the Indigenous city of Cahokia to contemporary Chicago. Use the Newberry Library’s original source materials to investigate Indigenous villages, maps of stockyards, new foods introduced during the 1893 World's Fair, and recipe collections to look at food from the perspectives of economics, migration, immigration, culture, gender, and activism.

 

 

Food for Thought:

A Thousand Years of Cooking and Eating in Illinois and Chicago

Walnut Grove Farm (Knoxville, Ill.) 1948 from Daily Life Along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad collection (Newberry Library)

Cities are shaped by people, and people in turn are shaped by the food they grow, process, cook, and consume. This seminar explores how the production, transportaiton, and preparation of food transformed urban landscapes in the Midwest since the time of the Indigenous city of Cahokia to contemporary Chicago. 

Looking at food from an interdiciplinary perspective will allow humanities students to explore a variety of the Newberry Library's collections. Readings, lectures, and site visits will serve as a launch pad for participants to complete their own independent study using the Newberry’s source materials including 19th century maps of stockyars and Indigenous villages in the Midwest, postcards and epemera from the World's Fair, recipe collections, household guides, and environmental and economic studies.   

The seminar will cover the history of farming and food in the Midwest; the growth of Chicago as a center of commodity markets; cultural shifts in cuisine due to human migrations, immigration, and special events like the Columbian Exposition of 1893; gender roles related to food production and preparation; and the significance of food to twentieth-century food sovereignty activism. 

2020 Faculty

Bottiger headshot

Patrick Bottiger

Faculty Co-Director 
Assistant Professor, History
Kenyon College

Faculty profile

O'Neill headshot

 

 

Rosemary O'Neill

Faculty Co-Director 
Associate Professor, English
Kenyon College

Faculty profile

Download the Draft Syllabus