Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
First-Year Seminar


FYS Section A24. Rituals of Dinner

Margaret Visser suggests in her book The Rituals of Dinner that table manners originated to curb our instincts to use our knives on our fellow diners rather than on our dinner. The rituals of dinner have become the symbolic means for representing, performing, and mediating conflicts - within cultures, between different cultures, and between humans and other than human beings in the natural world. We will analyze not only texts from the Bible and Plato's Symposium which profoundly shaped Western ideas and practices of meals, but also food movies that represent more contemporary and multicultural perspectives on food and meals. We will make and perform food and rituals in and outside of class. The meal rituals we study, perform, and design are to integrate "book knowledge" and experiential knowledge. Rituals get us to know things not only in our minds, but also in our limbs and sense organs.

Jonathan Brumberg-KrausJonathan Brumberg-Kraus
Professor of Religion