Project Archive: Food Studies: Matter, Meaning, Movement

This is a snapshot of project information archived on 2 September 2022. Please contact the project team for most recent updates.

Food Studies: Matter, Meaning & Movement

Subject: Food Studies

Book Language: English

Audience: undergraduate students in introductory courses and upper-year food specialization courses

Book Cover:

Created date: October 28, 2020

Updated date: September 1, 2022

Target Release Date: 2022-03-31


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FOOD STUDIES: Matter, Meaning & Movement is conceived as a multimedia ‘textbook’ for undergraduate university and college students. As a whole, it may be useful for first-year survey or introduction courses, while specific sections (and/or possible future editions) may be used within more disciplinarily focused or practice-specific upper-year courses.

Three broad themes and three editorial formats frame the book, conceptually and organizationally.


Matter, meaning, and movement relate to the nature of food itself. For humans to understand food as food, each of these elements must be present. In other words, food is composite, a construct of materiality (plant/animal tissue, minerals, tools of transformation, packaging, etc.), discourse (language/symbols, conceptual significance, images both mental and mediatized, etc.), and processes (eco-transformational, biochemical, chemophysical, interactive/relational, perceptual, etc.) Were it possible to remove one of these elements, we might be left with edible substance, or sensory concept, or culinary gesture, but not with a thing that we would understand as “food.”

Within this framing, we invite contributors and readers to think about the wholeness of food, and about what happens when we ‘parse’ matter/materiality, meaning/discourse, and movement/process. Different academic communities and practitioners habitually do this—that is, foreground one or another of these elements. While this may be useful within a discipline, it also may create false distinctions that do not effectively respond to the whole-system challenges that Food Studies scholars often address. Nonetheless, by intentionally ‘parsing’ food and then demonstrating ways to reintegrate it, we may acquire a stronger understanding of food-related complexity, and from there, discover new opportunities when it comes to learning about and researching food. Users of this OER may then be better prepared for a long-term, cross-disciplinary, cross-community engagement with their subject.


The three editorial formats of FOOD STUDIES—Perspectives, Cases / Field Notes, and Creative Works—are intended to invite a diverse range of text/media contributions that can link conceptually or digitally to other contributions within the volume. For the electronic formats of this OER, it is intended that each contribution will include hyperlinks to others, providing learners with the ability to find examples that relate illustrations to theory to specific cases to narratives.

Perspectives are intended to synthesize a conceptual or broad set of understandings about food, introducing an area of practice, study, or attention. While more abstract than Cases, Perspectives nevertheless need to enable practical understanding of food theory, while pointing to ways in which theory is actualized. Perspectives should give readers a global understanding of the subject at hand, without necessarily defining or delimiting the scope and/or heterogeneity of the subject. Perspectives should range from 1000 to 3000 words.

Cases / Field Notes are intended to provide specific examples of Food Studies research or practice that demonstrate how lived experience and theorizations come together. They should also demonstrate clear connections between theory and practice, as well as the ways in which theory and practice inform and modify one other (particularly in our field). Cases should clarify broad themes within Food Studies, without limiting the potential for those themes to be understood in other ways. Cases should range from 500 to 2000 words.

Creative Works may include textual, graphic, audio, video, or interactive content. These pieces are intended to illustrate abstractions while nonetheless inviting reflection and questioning—i.e., by offering prompts to the reader to subjectively interpret a given Perspective or Case. Creative Works should stimulate speculation and potentially provoke contradiction or messiness, while also activating emotional-affective responses within readers. Creative Works can range in format and length, but not exceed more than 1500 words overall.

In addition to the contributions noted above, each section of the OER will include pedagogical tools, such as exercises, prompting questions, quiz questions, links to additional resources, and other material. We welcome submissions in this area as well.

Short Description:

FOOD STUDIES: Matter, Meaning & Movement

brings together a collection of material to support undergraduate learning about food and food systems, from introductory courses to upper-year seminars or theme-specific study. Contributions address one of the three ‘elements’ of food—matter, meaning, or movement—while falling in one of three formats: Perspectives, which take a broad, top-down approach to a given theme; Cases / Field Notes, which focus on specific food realities, projects, or challenges using a grounded or practice-based approach; and Creative Works, which illuminate or illustrate food theory, practice, methods, or outcomes through words, images, graphics, or a combination of media.