FYS 056 The World in Cookbooks: A Socio-Cultural Approach 


The class harvested vegetables at the college’s own farm “LaFarm” and used the harvest to prepare a delicious meal at Gilbert’s.  They used historical recipes from the following cookbooks:  “Fannie Farmer Cookbook”, 1896, “The New York Times Menu Cookbook”, 1966 by Craig Claiborne, and “The International Jewish Cookbook”, 1919 By Florence Kreisler Greenbaum.

This First Year Seminar, instructed by Professor Rebekah Pite (History Department) and Ana Luhrs (Kirby Librarian),  looks at how cookbooks are much more than simple collections of recipes. When approached critically, they allow us to analyze patterns of daily life, domestic ideals and practices, and power relations in the societies in which they were produced and consumed. This seminar answers the following questions: 1) What is a cookbook? 2) What can cookbooks tell us (and not tell us) about the societies in which they circulated? 3) What subjects can cookbooks encourage us to (re)consider? In examining these questions, this seminar explores topics including cookbooks as biographies and domestic advice, as well as genres of cookbooks including ethnic, commercial, and community cookbooks.