Italian Food in Literature, Film and Culture

ITALIAN 470 - L'Italiano nel piatto

Italian food in Literature, Film and culture
Dr. Simona Muratore

Course description:

This course offered in Italian language will explore the art of cuisine through the analysis of literary text, culture and film.

We will also study the history and principles of the Slow Food movement, which was founded in 1989 in Italy to counteract fast food and to promote local food traditions. The readings for the course are a mix of information about the slow food movement, the Mediterranean diet and nutrition, and fiction, poetry and film that will be seen through this particular prism -- all in Italian. The course will contain an element of community-engaged learning. We will collaborate with Decatur High school, where they have a culinary arts course and a school garden. Students will work in teams to prepare four different modules for presentation to the students in the high school. These four modules are:  1) an overview of the slow food movement in Italy; 2) the Mediterranean diet and nutrition  3) a cooking demonstration  4) a session on the social aspects of food in Italy. The students in the course will be learning and preparing these modules for presentation in their own class in Italian, and then working in their separate teams to prepare the modules in English (with some Italian vocabulary learning imbedded) for the Decatur High students.

Course objectives:

1) To increase your knowledge of Italian culture, literature, and society through the study of food.

2) To improve your reading skills and to analyze, in Italian, text from Italian literature, film, images and other cultural artifacts.

3) To develop and apply critical thinking and verbal skills such as be able to orally present and discuss and write about the topics discussed in class.



Week 1
Introduction to the course

Week 2
Slow food Movement: history, mission, philosophy
"Toward a Psycology of Contemporary food" Roland Barthes
"Funghi in città" Italo Calvino
Slow food Emory: guest lecture: Julie Shaffer
"Marcovaldo al supermarket", Palomar by Italo Calvino

Week 3
Terra Madre: History, mission philosophy
"Come non farci mangiare dal cibo" Carlo Petrini
Discussion video "Terra madre" by Ermanno Olmi

Week 4
Agriturismo: rural vacations, local food and relax.
Il Barone Rampante Italo Calvino


Week 5
Nutrition, Mediterranean diet, hunger, Leonardo da Vinci's diet.
"Pinocchio" Carlo Collodi
"Se voi star sano" poetry by Leonardo da Vinci
"The mediterranea diet" guest lecture by Cristiana Milone

Week 6
Advertising about food.
Reflexions about the students visits to farmers market.
Discussion of the movie "Lezioni di cioccolato"

Week 7
Mediterranean diet pyramid.
Variety in the Italian Regional food
A Woman in the kitchen


Week 9
Secrets of Italian cooking: recipies, flavours and colours.
"De re coquinaria" Apicio
Maestro Martino: the bith of modern cookery in Italy
The futurist cookbook
Books of etiquette: Monsignor della Casa.
Food appreciation day at the restaurant.

Week 10
Pellegrino Artusi and the bith of a new cuisine: sample recipies.
Representations of food in paintings.


Week 11
Food and sociality
"Antecedenti latini: la leteratura a cena" Giampiero Rosati in Passare il tempo Salerno ed. Pag 29-50
"Convivio" cum vivere: Scenes from the movie "Satyricon" by Pasolini.
"The cultural Structuring of Mealtime Socialization" Elinor Ochs, Merav Shohet.
Relatives at the table.
Italo Calvino: "La pietanziera"
Discussion of the movie "La cena" by Ettore Scola

Week 12
History of Italian food through cinema (dvd)


Week 13
Short stories from "The Milk of Almonds" Italian American Women Writers on Food and culture
Discussion of the movie "Big Night"
Reports on the interviews with restaurant owners