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Annual Humanities Symposium Focuses on Cuisine in Culture, Community

Following months of preparation, Belmont’s School of Humanities is prepared to host the 14th annual Humanities Symposium Sept. 28-Oct. 5, centering the week-long event around the theme “Many Tables Fayre: Cuisine in Culture and Community.” The symposium will involve a variety of offerings, including more than 30 presentations, a cooking demonstration and class, service events, a writing workshop and readings from the symposium’s writing contest winners.

Assistant Professor of English Dr. Jason Lovvorn, who is chairing this year’s symposium planning committee, noted, “Our title, ‘Many Tables Fayre,’ comes from one of English literature’s most celebrated epics, Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, wherein two valiant knights tour Alma, the soul of mankind represented allegorically as both castle and as human body. The intrepid knights visit, among other places, the ‘many tables fayre’ of Diet and Appetite, also represented as allegorical figures. Like Spenser’s poem, this year’s symposium takes up themes of diet, appetite and consumption by examining cuisine and its related food practices. Drawing on multiple perspectives— some local, others much more global—the symposium explores cuisine as a common denominator for the humanities. Food unites us at the same time that its intricacies provide useful distinctions between cultures and communities. We eat to live, but we also live to eat and to cook, oftentimes in markedly different fashion. As the focus of artistic representation, cultural commentary, and even scientific inquiry, food practices unquestionably shape what it means to be human.”

The symposium will begin with this year’s Monteverde Plenary Address, given by Associate Professor of Italian Dr. Francesca Muccini and titled “Italian Cuisine and Cultural Identity.” Featured speakers include local health coaches Elizabeth Moore and Rachael Moore discussing “The End of Dieting: Healthy, Sustainable Living On A Budget”acclaimed Nashville chef, Jeremy Barlow talking about how “Chefs Can Save the World” through fixing the food system; artist and food author Michael Krondl speaking on “Sugar and Show: Conspicuous Consumption in the Age of Medici”; and two noted professors connected to food studies, Dr. Alice Julier and Dr. Marcie Cohen Ferris, discussing “The Moral Entrepreneurship of Cooks” and “The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region,” respectively.

In conjunction with the Symposium, students can take advantage of two volunteer opportunities, both offering community-service convocation credit.  One opportunity is with the Nashville United Way (4928 Edmondson Pike, Suite 204, Nashville)  and will involve kitchen prep and academic enrichment work.  The other opportunity is with Hands On Nashville’s urban garden (361 Wimpole Drive, Nashville) and will involve working in and learning about the garden.  Advance sign-up is required.  To sign up for either opportunity, please contact Misty Wellman (615-460-6069).

For more information, visit the Humanities Symposium page, download the program or check the Campus Calendar.