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EN2F8/EN3F8 Food and Literature: Identity, Memory, and Diaspora

This module is not currently running.

Module Convenor: Dr Ross G Forman,
r dot g dot forman at warwick dot ac dot uk



This module will use writing about food as a window into how contemporary literature broaches such topics as migration and diaspora, memory, nostalgia, and affect. We will consider how food often functions as a symbol of and focalizer for certain cultural concerns, including individual and group/ethnic identity, highlighting issues of heritage and lineage and concerns with intergenerational and collective memory, imaginary homelands, and war and conflict. The module will map some of these concerns across different genres, including fiction, drama, autobiography, and the cookbook and assess the similarities and differences in the way in which these genre handle the cultural issues that permeate the topic of food preparation and eating. Students will also consider the crucial place of the restaurant as the touchstone of narratives about food and identity.


100% assessed (2 x 4,500 word essays plus 2 x 1000 words response papers, to be shared with the seminar groups)

Din Tai Fung

Provisional Outline Syllabus*

*There will be supplemental critical readings to go with the set texts below.

Term 1:
DIet, Diaspora and Conflict

Unit 1: Focus on South Asia

Week 1: Introduction. Foodways and the Literary.
Week 2: Ayub Khan-Din, East Is East
Week 3: Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
Week 4: Romesh Gunesekera, Reef
Week 5: Sara Goodyear Suleri, Meatless Days
Week 6: Reading Week
Week 7: Kamala Shamsie, Salt and Saffron

Unit 2: Focus on Africa

Week 8: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus
Week 9: Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples
Week 10: Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions

Gobi Manchurian

Term 2
Food and the East and Southeast Asian Diaspora in North America and Beyond

Week 1: Monique Truong, The Book of Salt
Week 2: Tran Anh Hung, The Scent of Green Papaya [film]
Week 3: Timothy Mo, Renegade, or Halo-Halo
Week 4: Fuchsia Dunlop, Sharks Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
Week 5: Weena Poon, “Lions in Winter”; Kirstin Chen, Soy Sauce for Beginners
Week 6: Reading Week
Week 7: Sky Lee, Disappearing Moon Cafe
Week 8: Fae Ng, Bone
Week 9: Geiling Yan, The Banquet Bug
Week 10: Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters

Halo Halo

Indicative Bibliography

Appadurai, Arjun. "How to Make a National Cuisine." Comparative Studies in Society and History 30.1 (1988): 3-24.

Brah, Avtar. Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Cho, Lily. Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2010.

Coe, Andrew. Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States. New York: Oxford UP, 2009.

Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger. London: Routledge, 2002.

Eng, David. The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy. Durham: Duke UP, 2010.

Heller, Tamar. Scenes of the Apple: Food and the Female Body in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century Women's Writing. Buffalo: State U of New York P, 2003.

Khoo, Tseen, and Kam Louie, eds. Culture, Identity, Commodity: Diasporic Chinese Literatures in English. Hong Kong: Hong Kong UP, 2005.

Ku, Robert Ji-Song, Martin F. Manalansan, and Anita Mannur. Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2013.

Lee, Jennifer 8. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. New York: Twelve Books/Hachette, 2008.

Lim, Eng-Beng. Brown Boys and Rice Queens: Spellbinding Performances in the Asias. New York: New York UP, 2014.

Lowe, Lisa. Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Durham: Duke UP, 1996.

Mannur, Anita. Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2009.

Mishra, Vijay. The Literature of the Indian Diaspora. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Nguyen, Bich Min. Stealing Buddha's Dinner: A Memoir. New York: Viking Adult, 2007.

Roberts, J. A. G. China to Chinatown: Chinese Food in the West. London: Reaktion, 2002.

Roy, Parama. Alimentary Tracts: Appetites, Aversions, and the Postcolonial. Durham: Duke UP, 2010.

Stoler, Ann Laura. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power. 2nd ed. Berkeley: U of California P, 2010.

Teaching Food and Foodways in Asian American Literature and Popular Culture. Special issue of Asian American Literature: Discourses and Pedagogy 2 (2012).

Xu, Wenying. Eating Identities: Reading Food in Asian American Literature. Honolulu: U of Hawaii P, 2007.