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Jennifer Burns Levin, Clark Honors College
“Modernist Cuisine for Moderns”
Sponsored by the Food in the Field Research Interest Group, UO Center for the Study of Women in Society
Abstract: I examine the ‘modernist’ in Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (2011), a six-volume, 2,400-page, award-winning cookbook edited by former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold and a team of writers and chefs. Formerly known as molecular gastronomy, “modernist cuisine” has been adopted as a new label for the style of restaurant cooking known for its gels and foams, its precision and creativity. What’s at stake for this anachronistic label? I argue that unmooring modernism from its history has the potential to “make it new” in a very modernist spirit. But, by doing so, Myhrvold reveals some less savory flavors associated with modernism, as well – gender, race, and class privilege that it asserts in a codependent relationship with the middle-class consumer.
Bio: Jennifer Burns Levin teaches literature at the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, where she leads an interdisciplinary faculty research interest group in food studies through the UO Center for the Study of Women in Society. She is editing a book-length manuscript, Lower Discipline: The Many Masochisms of Modernism, and researching a new project on modernist hunger and gastronomic practices. She earned a Ph.D. in English literature from University of California, Irvine; her publications include reviews and articles for Gastronomica (forthcoming), Joyce Studies Annual, the James Joyce Quarterly, and the James Joyce Literary Supplement.
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