Food and Identity in World Cinema


Program Description:

During the past few decades, scholars have begun to study food and eating in a more serious way, examining how food does much more than merely satisfy a basic biological need in human beings. Among other things, food has been shown to reflect cultural values, to organize social relations, and to shape personal identity. Indeed, food not only nourishes, as Claude Levi-Strauss once famously put it, it also signifies. Nutritional considerations alone, he pointed out, do not adequately explain the ideology, values and behavior involved in the production, preparation, distribution and consumption of food. As a result, food and eating provide a powerfully concentrated “language” that a creative artist – such as a writer or a filmmaker – can use to articulate moral values, express philosophical ideas, and reflect social relations.


Ronald LeBlanc

Ronald D. LeBlanc is Professor of Russian and Humanities at the University of New Hampshire and Research Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of a book on Russian picaresque fiction (The Russianization of Gil Blas, 1986) and another on the use of food imagery and eating metaphors in 19th-century Russian literature to express male sexual desire (Slavic Sins of the Flesh: Food, Sex, and Carnal Appetite in Nineteenth-Century Russian Fiction, 2009), as well as a score of articles and book chapters on Russian literature.

Other topics offered by Ronald LeBlanc