Culinary Contact Zones: Charting Transatlantic Exchange in Early American Food Culture


Panel organizer: Christopher Farrish, The Claremont Graduate University


We invite proposals for an interdisciplinary panel exploring the intersections of food, eating, and dining, with nation-making and transatlantic exchange in early America. What styles of cooking and eating emerged in the contact zones between British and colonial tradition? How did indigenous and African cultures influence specific localities? How were Caribbean influences folded into Southern habits? When people wrote about meals, both magnificent and mundane, what did they say? What of the receipt books and published cookbooks; how may we read these texts as cultural documents that evoke place as well as engage a “culture of reprinting?” How does dinning room architecture in plantation homes and northern estates reflect larger circuits of capital and social status? This panel will approach food and eating in these expansive terms, encompassing ingredients, cooking techniques, and meals, but also architecture, trade, and literary production. In so doing we will expose early American food culture as deeply influential on and evocative of emerging notions of home, place, and nation.

Special consideration will be given to papers that address this topic through such lenses as: transnationalism, material and print culture, vernacular architecture, gender theory, African American studies, borderlands, and historical approaches. 

Send your 250-word paper abstract to Christopher Farrish at by Friday, September 7, 2012.