History 666-002: AHA Mellon Field Course
Historians and the Food System
Class meetings: Wednesday, 1:00-3:30; MVH 1101

Instructors: Virginia Scharff (
Eric Payseur (

Office hours: Virginia: Wednesday, 3:30-5, and by appointment, 2059 MVH
Eric: Wednesday & Thursday, 10-12, and by appointment, 2081 MVH

This is the pilot Field Course for the American Historical Association-Mellon Foundation Career Diversity Project. Students will bring the skills and knowledge they learn to master as graduate students in history, to a collaborative project engaged with the local, national, and global food system. Over the course of the semester, students will read, write, think and talk, work with each other and the instructors, meet with guest mentors, and build their confidence and their abilities to communicate with diverse audiences and to lead and contribute to team efforts.

This isn’t your granddaddy’s seminar. The instructors and students will constitute a collaborative team, and knowledge will flow in all directions, rather than assuming mastery on the part of instructors and relative ignorance on the part of students. We are also recruiting contributor/collaborators who are not officially enrolled in the class, but who will take part in building both their own skills and the larger project of the seminar and the AHA Mellon initiative.

Most classes will feature work with guest mentor/partner/collaborators. Each class will include time for students to discuss their ideas for their contributions to the class project, including their blogs, research, questions, concerns, and big Ideas.

Productive Googling for sources, definitions of pertinent terms, possible projects, connections, collaborators. Any of us may also suggest additional short readings as the course develops.

Each student will write five blog posts (500-1000 words) based on research in NM food history, broadly constructed. These will be posted to the class Facebook page, and linked to the AHA Mellon page on the CSW and History dept. websites, and on the class WordPress blog. Students’ best work may also be published in the online posts of Edible Santa Fe.

Each student will do both primary and secondary research on a particular topic in NM food history, to develop for a class website. Those projects will make use of various sources of information, ranging from classic archives, to digital data, to material culture, the built environment, and popular culture. They will also range broadly in terms of presentation, depending on student interests and skills.

They say all attempts to innovate should expect, and even relish, failure. Some of what we do may fail, but may also lead to breakthrough. Let’s go forth boldly!

Schedule of classes and assignments:
N.B. The readings/viewings below are available online, through UNM libraries, or on reserve (TBA).

January 14: General Introduction

Explanation of requirements: food history blogs, contribution to group effort through research, writing, media, creative work.
Inventory student skills and interests
Skill building for career diversity: collaboration, communication, confidence, digital and quantitative skills
Terms of art (Eric’s glossary)
Creating a multiplatform food history of New Mexico

January 21: UNM Food Collaborative as Partner/Client
Understanding universities
Community-engaged research
Suggested readings: John V. Lombardi, HOW UNIVERSITIES WORK
Boyer, E.L., “Scholarship Reconsidered” (1990)
Ellison and Eatman, “Scholarship in Public”
Suggested readings/viewings: Carolyn Steel, “How Food Shapes Our Cities” TED talk at
Browse Rachel Laudan’s website and read “Getting Started in Food History”
Guests: Bruce Milne, Jessica Rowland, Monica Kowal

January 28: Research Resources and the Built Environment
Suggested reading: Friese, Nabhan et al, CHASING CHILES
Guest: Chris Wilson

February 4: Writing for diverse audiences, food blogging, food work in NM

Suggested Reading: Edible Santa Fe Magazine; other NM food blogs and publications;;

Guest: Sarah Wentzel- Fisher

February 11: Data, digital history, and mapping food in NM history and landscape
Skill: digital, brainstorming, project management
Suggested Reading:
Peter Atkins, Mapping foodscapes. Food & History. 2005;3:267-280.
Dinsmore & Cabanis-Brewin, ed. AMA Handbook of Project Management (2014), Preface, Chapters 1, 28, 30, and 42, pages: xi; 1-12; 293-305; 317-328; and 451-463.
Guests: Fred Gibbs
February 18: History and Museums

Skill: collaboration, communication, material culture
Suggested reading: TBA
Chapter 13, Section 11 from the Community Toolbox: Collaborative Leadership
Guest: John Gray

February 25: Practice Elevator Pitches

February 26-7: Participate in WHAT USE IS HISTORY? In SUB on Thursday
(26) and History Department Common Room on Friday (27)

March 4: Food Security and Food Justice
Skill: collaboration
Suggested Reading:
Chapter 16, Sections 1-4 from Community Toolbox: Group Facilitation and Problem Solving
Giménez & Shattuck, “Food Crises, Food Regimes and Food Movements,” Journal of Peasant Studies vol. 38, no. 1 (2011), pp. 109-144; Edelman, et al, “Introduction: Critical Perspectives on Food Sovereignty,” JPS vol. 41, no. 6 (2014), pp. 911-931; look at .
Guest: Kiran Katira and Food Corps leaders

March 18: Field Trip, Los Poblanos

March 25: Thinking globally

Skill: interdisciplinarity
Suggested Reading: Introduction and conclusion, Fraser & Rimas, Empires of Food (Free Press, 2010)
Guest: Sarita Cargas
first cuts: contributions to class project

April 1: Thinking with spaces

Skill: interdisciplinarity
Suggested Reading: TBA
Guest: Michaele Pride, Claudia Isaac

April 8: class discussion of collaborative project, work in progress

April 15: class discussion of collaborative project, work in progress

April 22: Field Experience: Gutierrez Hubbell House (TBA)

April 29: Presentations to Food Collaborative Client/Mentors
Bruce Milne, Jessica Rowland, possibly others

May 6: Class feast and debriefing at home of VJS

666 syllabus 2015


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