Food Studies (In)Digestion

In 2020, The Graduate Association for Food Studies debuted Food Studies (In)Digestion, a series of conversations for graduate students to search for, critique, expand, and understand our orientations to the food studies canon. Each part of this series served as an opportunity to generate discussion about the field of food studies through its commonly read texts—and to reflect on how those texts provoke or prevent growth in the field.

The three-part series, conceived by Erica Zurawski, Edward James Malin, Jessica Carbone, and Carlynn Crosby, proved to be a valuable space for dialogue and connection as graduate students shared similar experiences, imaginings, and frustrations. Inspired by these conversations and the contributions from graduate students the world over, GAFS tweaked the structure of these meetings in 2021 to offer an open space for freeform discussions centered around thematic issues in the food studies universe.

These sessions are designed for open conversation among graduate students (GAFS members and non-members). Given our desire to facilitate an open and honest conversation, meetings will not be recorded but we are hopeful that these conversations lead to the development of future bibliographies and articles in the Graduate Journal of Food Studies and further programs for the broader food studies community.

Give me more details! How do I join a Food Studies (In)Digestion session?

Sessions will be held every couple of months with announcements to register distributed on our newsletter and social media accounts. (Not subscribed to our newsletter? Join here! You don’t have to be a GAFS member to join.)

Each session requires pre-registration via Zoom. Any suggested readings for the sessions will be distributed to registered participants.

GAFS moderators will be present at each session. If you wish to attended a session but prefer only to listen, you may feel free to mute your camera and microphone and direct any questions or comments you have via private message to the GAFS board members moderating the session.

Upcoming Sessions:

November Session | Reframing Academic Work for a Wider Audience

Tuesday, November 16th | 6:00 PM EST, 3:00 PM PST

Join us via Zoom to learn how to transition academic work for a public or a wider audience! We’ll be talking about the “elevator pitch” and connecting with a reader via your writing.  

Register here.

Previous Sessions:

1st Session of the Canon Series | The Food Studies Dilemma: Searching for the Food Studies Canon

Thursday, October 1st | 1:30 – 3:30 PM EST

Session Moderators: Jessica Carbone & Erica Zurawski, GAFS Co-Presidents

At some point all graduate students entering the field of food studies ask: “What should I read?” As we work to gain proficiency in the field, we also ask, “What do I have to read?” Yet even as we familiarize ourselves with a discipline through carefully crafted reading lists—from the scholarly world, from the popular world, and from the primary and archival sources and silences we encounter in our research—we inevitably experience a degree of scholarly indigestion.

  • As a field that celebrates its interdisciplinarity, how do we as emerging scholars position ourselves within this interdisciplinarity? What difficulties does this pose and what possibilities does it open up?
  • What are the real-world implications of having (or not having) clear boundaries to the field of food studies?
  • How can a canon of food studies act as a shared language for communicating across the disciplines? 
  • How does that language exclude and silence? What strategies can we use to include and give voice as we build the canon?

This first session offers an opportunity to discuss and debate the concept of a food studies canon—what the value of such a canon could be, and what the inherent limits and challenges are in assembling such a canon for this still-emerging field.

2nd Session of the Canon Series | Bring the Canon, Push the Canon

Tuesday, December 1st | 3:30 – 5:30 PM EST

Session Moderators: Carlynn Crosby, GAFS Conference Coordinator & James Malin, GAFS Library Services Liaison and Scholarly Communications Coordinator

In this second session, we will begin to start thinking about texts we feel most food studies scholars are familiar with and texts we feel scholars should study more. Rather than making an argument for any one particular text, we will instead consider the values, qualities, and criteria that we look for in food studies scholarship — sometimes finding and other times not — to help us deepen our understanding of the discipline as a whole.

3rd Session of the Canon Series | The Canon to Come: Our Influence and Impact as Future Contributors to the Field

Friday, March 5th | 2:00-3:30 PM EST

Registration link:

Join us for our third session of the GAFS Food Studies (In)Digestion Series! Whether you have joined us for prior sessions or not, we look forward to thinking with and alongside other food studies graduate students. In an effort to carve a generative and open space for conversation amongst graduate students, meetings are not recorded and are limited to graduate students. We welcome all food studies graduate students, regardless of GAFS membership status!

In past sessions, we considered, critiqued, and debated the contents of the food studies “canon,” and questioned whether a coherent canon even exists for our discipline. Now we turn to consider our own impact as a new generation of contributors to the field:

  • How do we as graduate students, as new and future shapers of the “canon” of food studies, negotiate the potential impact and influence of our contributions?
  • What does it mean to “do good” through a canon of scholarship, especially one that has so much potential impact on the daily lives of actors far beyond the defined field of food studies?
  • Does food studies actually have an opportunity to democratize academia by speaking directly to real-world practices and systems, and what would such a shift entail?
  • In a field as cross disciplinary as this one, how do we position the work we do in the academy and the broader world? What can we do, to bring together these disciplines?
  • What, if we’re planning to be part of it, is the food studies canon good for?