Thursday, January 22, 2009

designing a syllabus for eating san francisco

this spring i'm teaching two new special topics courses - digital media production and eating san francisco.


eating san francisco requires students a) to read books and watch films to better understand the relationships between food and culture, b) to take field trips and arrange dinners to better understand san francisco's diverse neighborhoods and cultures, c) to learn how to cook and document at least one delicious meal, and d) to learn and use appropriate forms of social media to present and share their findings.

nearly all of our reading comes from three books: reel food: essays on food and film, edited by anne l. bower (routledge, 2004); reclaiming san francisco: history, politics, culture, edited by james brook, chris carlsson & nancy j. peters (city lights books, 1998); and the omnivore’s dilemma: a natural history of four meals, by michael pollan (penguin, 2006). and along the way, we'll watch films like big night (stanley tucci and campbell scott, 1996); like water for chocolate (alfonso arau, 1993); the cook, the thief, his wife and her lover (peter greenaway, 1989); and the real dirt on farmer john (taggart siegel, 2005).


eating san francisco includes multiple field trips. because the class meets in the evening (weds, 6:15-9 pm), our field trips will include dinners and walkabouts. probable destinations are north beach, the mission, castro, haight-ashbury, and USF's organic garden. and i hope students will agree to meet once on a saturday, for dim sum, in chinatown.

eating san francisco will no doubt be delicious, but it will also be demanding. i expect students to fully research san francisco's diverse histories, foods, cultures, and neighborhoods. i expect students to creatively and collaboratively document, through words, photography, and video, their experiences and explorations across the city. and i expect students to learn how to cook and document a delicious meal made entirely of seasonal, regional ingredients.


with sarah away at a library conference in denver, i've been working day and night on the syllabus. with luck, i'll post it this weekend.

10 comments:

Kelli McCloskey said...

This sounds amazing! Can't wait for Wednesday.

david silver said...

Kelli - thanks for the comment! see you wed.

Blogavatar said...

I will "shadow" this class at every meal from now on! Have you seen Peter Singer (and ?)'s The Ethics of What We Eat? Just got through a couple of chapters, very nice.

Rebecca/CookingUpAStory said...

Love this concept for a class! I imagine it will fill up fast, if not immediately, in the future as word gets around. There are so many films around food, as you probably are already aware, 2 more favorites (not on your list) are 'Babette's Feast' and 'King Corn'. Reading the first chapter of Omnivore's Dilemma ties directly into the Ellis/Cheney film. Wish I was there to sign up, best of luck with it!

Nancy said...

Have you found the perfect university for you or what? Both your courses this semester sound fantastic.

jini said...

i wish i could audit this class! it sounds yummy!

david silver said...

Blogavatar - hello! (i'm still trying to figure out if i can include your excellent off-blog suggestion of Vic's in Berkeley for chaat but it may have to wait until the next time i teach it.) thanks for suggesting Singer's book - i have seen it but have not yet read it.

Rebecca - thanks! great film suggestions, especially King Corn which, as you mention, would work perfectly with Pollan's first chapter. nice. also, i plan to include your excellent food matters interviews with mark bittman that i discovered via twitter.

Nance and jini - yep. =)

Kelli McCloskey said...

does the first class meet in cowell 413?

kq said...

yummy.

i second the king corn reference. i insist that the students think about what books they read in college that could launch them into a year + of documentary filmmaking.

david silver said...

Kelli - yes!

kq - what a great way to decide which books to read. thanks for seconding rebecca's suggestion of king corn. and - as if you didn't know this - so much of eating san francisco is a product of our 15+ years of talking about teaching.