Visiting scholar looks into Southern cooking


    Scholar and professor at the University of Texas at Austin Elizabeth Engelhardt discussed a deeper look into Southern cooking on Monday night in Palko Hall.

    Engelhardt's talk, "Writing the Mess of Greens Together: Collaboration, Community, and Southern Food," related to her research outlined in her most recent book "A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food."

    Her talk, hosted by the TCU women's studies program, looked into Southern cooking in the United States and what it tells us about race, gender, class and society throughout time.

    "Food is a lens to understand culture," Engelhardt, professor of women's and gender studies, said.

    Cookbooks and cookbook novels inform readers of more than just how to cook a meal, she said. Rather, they exemplify a sort of communication and collaboration brought about through the preparing of food.

    Engelhardt told students, faculty and community members in attendance how food studies excites her and how she enjoys the challenge of using a wide range of sources in her work.

    Carrie Tippen, a graduate instructor in English, said she helped bring Engelhardt to campus and enjoyed listening to the lecture.

    Tippen said Engelhardt's lecture on Southern food and cookbooks related to women’s studies by highlighting female writers who are not often acknowledged. 

    "[Cookbooks] aren't fiction," Tippen said. "They don't get studied in literature courses and they don't get a lot of attention as historical documents." 

    A major goal of women’s studies is to identify how women speak and to bring attention to those women who write outside of the realm of what's considered important documents, Tippen said.

    Theresa Gaul, director of women's studies, said she thought the lecture went well and was happy with the audience turnout. 

    Gaul said women’s studies relates to Engelhardt's research because it is an interdisciplinary program and can be applied to any line of work or study.

    "We thought [Engelhardt] was a wonderful example of interdisciplinary work because her work combines areas that encompass all sorts of aspects of women's experience over time," Gaul said.

    In addition, Gaul said she thought the emphasis on food would be a topic all students across campus could relate to.

    "We felt that students could identify with the centrality of food in scholarship focused on women," she said. "Which is what women’s studies is all about."