Writing with a Sense of Taste | BU Today – BU Today

December 16, 2021 by No Comments

Few undergraduates can cite tasting chocolate and cheeses, sniffing spices, and scoffing down a $1 oyster among their assignments this semester. But in Jamie Robertson’s College of Arts & Sciences seminar Writing with a Sense of Taste, these sensory activities are fundamental to the process of learning how to reflect and write.

CAS Writing Program lecturer Jamie Robertson.

With its emphasis on critical reading, research, and expression through both written and digital media, students in Robertson’s seminar sample everything from longtime Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold’s reviews to revered food writer M. F. K. Fisher’s avant-garde, imaginative prose to ​​Anthony Bourdain’s Emmy-winning TV show Parts Unknown to, well, potato chips, for an exercise in taste and memory association. Throughout the semester, students also complete journal assignments, such as visiting a café and recording observations using all five senses, writing a critique of their dinner as if they were a food critic, and reacting to Fisher’s anecdotes and witticisms in her classic work, Consider the Oyster (1941). These explorations in genre and style culminate in a final multimedia presentation on a food-related topic chosen by the student, with the option of crafting a video, a website, a podcast, or a good old-fashioned powerpoint presentation suitably geared towards a critical audience.

Although the oyster assignment was not an option this term because of the pandemic’s ongoing effect on local restaurants, Robertson is glad to be teaching the seminar in person again, after COVID forced the class online in March 2020. “I was feeling, even before COVID, that we needed more human connectivity,” says Robertson, who also teaches a seminar on literature and law. “Of course eating has its own politics, but food is a way to connect people, and writing is also a way to connect people.” 

This idea resonated with many of her students, including Emma Kim (CAS’24), who says the subject matter was a welcome departure from her STEM coursework. She particularly enjoyed the restaurant review assignment: “Writing the review was different from what I had imagined,” she says. “It was fun trying to come up with specific words to make the reader have the same experiences as when I was sitting in the restaurant.” Kim, however, landed on a more serious topic for her final video project, which weighs the pros and cons, including the environmental impact, of conveyor belt sushi restaurants globally. 

International relations major Jelena Garcevic (Pardee’24) says the seminar was “a really good way to practice my creative writing,” and an opportunity  over Thanksgiving break to bond with her family and neighbors, who helped her film her final project on …….

Source: https://www.bu.edu/articles/2021/writing-with-a-sense-of-taste-seminar/


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