This assignment asks you to interpret a mass media text involving food in some way.
A single print ad or television commercial would provide more than enough to work with, but you can also analyze one or more episodes of a television series (or perhaps a few different shows if you want to compare some very specific parallel between them), a film (whether devoted to food or not), one or more music videos or animated short films, a graphic novel or web comic, or part of a website or blog. In general, it’s best to pick something that you already know is using food in some kind of interesting way, but the text doesn’t have to be entirely “about” food. And of course you should also be open to discovering things you didn’t already know in the process of performing a close reading.
Some questions you might consider as you analyze the text:
Who is the probable intended audience of the text, and how do you know? What kinds of beliefs and values about food does the text assume the audience will have?
Are there foods that are portrayed as especially desirable or virtuous? Disgusting? Sophisticated? Comforting? Novel? Is the text working in a pedagogical way to establish those values (i.e. trying to teach or convince the audience that some foods are “healthy” or “gourmet”) or does it assume the audience already knows what the foods portrayed mean?
What does the food communicate about any people or places in the text? Does it help establish personality or identity categories? Does it reflect power relationships or place the text in a particular time (either what the text is representing or when the text itself was produced)?
What are the relationships between food, gender, and bodies on display in the text? Does food seem to represent sexual relationships or relationships of caring and nurturing? Is it portrayed as source of power, subjugation, or freedom? Does it represent particular national identities or other kinds of “myths”?
How might the particular medium affect the meaning of the text? Consider things like whether the text makes particular truth claims or signals that it is fictional, what the revenue model is (do people buy the text itself, is it ad-supported, or is it an ad?) and what conditions the audience is likely to encounter the text in. How how might those things affect how it’s seen and what its influence is?
You certainly shouldn’t try to answer all of those questions in your paper, and there are many other kinds of questions you might ask depending on the nature of your text. The goal is to develop an original argument supported by evidence from the text.
THE MASS MEDIA SOURCE THAT YOU SHOULD USE:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7SNSWEV708 (Links to an external site.)
Chef’s Table Season 2: Episode 4 Enrique Olvera:
https://www.netflix.com/title/80007945 (Links to an external site.)
Which is paired with video guest speaker, Ignacio Sanchez Pardo’s “Diana Kennedy, Rick Bayless, and the Imagination of ‘Authentic’ Mexican Food’.” He’s really the leading expert on Mexican modernity in literature, film, cooking.