Friday, January 19, 2018

Not Teaching Dirt.

The time has come when the soil blog necessarily becomes a place to do some sharing of classroom work.

So let me tell you a story.

Last semester I was planning my spring course. I wanted it to be about Dirt. (You only get three guesses as to why.)

At the same time I was having conversations with people here at Georgia Tech about how I was dreaming of a pie in the sky, food studies program, here. In a meeting where I shared such wishes, the topic of my spring course came up. To the point of, ‘if food studies and rhetoric is what you want to ultimately teach, why aren't you really doing it now?’

I didn’t have a good answer, so I switched topics (sorry students). I went from “The Rhetoric and Poetics of Dirt,” to “Food Literacy in Atlanta.”

As I was designing the course, a sound byte from teaching orientation stuck with me. Something like, “We want our teachers making brave choices in the classroom. Be brave. Be Bold. And then ask yourself if that is as brave as you can be.”

So I went to Kroger and bought a big box of bravery, and the spread above is the result. And then.

I tweeted this picture, with the course topic. I’m not going to say it went viral, but 99 likes is a big deal for me.

More importantly, some pretty rockstar scholars reached out to me, and offered many forms of academic kindness. #souphound doesn't name drop, but you can get the idea.

Other people asked for the reading list. I’ve been slow, but here we go! Here is the shell, basics, and reading list (kinda) of my class ENG 1102, “Food Literacy in Atlanta!” (Syllabus in full is still looking for a home).

Find me via email, here, or twitter if I can answer any questions!
(and my pup is found under #bookselfies with #souphound)

In the past decade Atlanta has undergone phenomenal changes in infrastructure, and food culture because of two things: being a beta-hub in the tech industry, and tax credits that have cultivated a thriving film industry. This influx of people, money, and innovation, restaurant culture has seen tremendous growth. This Serve Learn Sustain (SLS) course encourages students to learn the story of Atlanta through its food history. We move through four units: “Resources,” “Mapping Recipes,” “Food Deserts/Swamps,” and “Food Taxonomy and Lexicons.”
This course pairs with community engaged partners to pursue SLS Big Ideas. Through an organizational logic of sustainability, and community, we focus on the role of food systems thinking, and food justice, in food literacy. This course hopes to draw together guest speakers from SLS partners (such as Mario Cambardella, the Urban Agriculture Director for the Office of Resilience in the City of Atlanta). Moreover, this course is affiliated with the Poetry@Tech events, and those poets’ works (Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Christopher Collins, Bruce McEverStuart, Dischell, David Bottoms, and Tarfia Faizullah).
For these units, students will use a shared vocabulary for discussing the written, oral, visual, electronic and nonverbal modes of communication, by using a wide selection of sources, and community engaged projects. This approach (as emphasized in WOVENtext) gives us a framework for identifying and practicing these skills as we interact with the course readings, and on campus events. WOVENtext provides methods for analyzing our readings and course materials. There will also be exploratory and multimodal work for each unit in the course—inspired by the many different modalities reflected in the primary and secondary readings. Last, but not least, students are encouraged to attend Poetry@Tech readings, and community events.

                                                          Reading & Work Schedule                                                           

Week 1               Introductions; Common Video                                                  
                             -Review syllabus on Canvas, Doodle Poll for office hours
(GaTech specific)
Create an individual video (60-90 seconds) in which you articulate a challenge relating to one of the WOVEN modes (written, oral, visual, electronic, or nonverbal communication) specific to this semester’s class projects. Assignment due as a youtube link uploaded to canvas.
Students are strongly advised to make use of library resources (like the gadget library) and/or the four studios in the communications building.
                                                                        -Readings from our composition text
-Read this (short) essay, “Food Swamps Are the New Food Deserts”:

Week 2                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                        -First Week Videos Due
                                                                        -Essays from Wendell Berry* (* means “on course management system”)
                                                                       -Selection from Rural Literacies*
-Familiarize yourself with the following website:
-Presentation and Tasking: Guest Speaker Mario Cambardella (Urban Ag / Mayoral office)

Week 3               Resource Infographic                                                                                                                       
                                                                        -Visit From Resource Librarian  
-Selection from The Archaeology and History of the Native
Georgia Tribes*
-Infographic assigned
                                                                        - Readings from our composition text
                                                                       -Selection From The Cooking Gene*
Week 4                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                       -Selection from On The Rim of The Caribbean*
                                                                        -In Class Workshop
-Readings from our composition text
                                                                        -Infographic Due  
-Project 1 Assigned

Week 5                             Project 1: Recipe Map                                                                                                    
                                                                        -Selections from Aimee Nezhukumatathil*
                                                                        -Readings from our composition text
                                                                        -Selections from The Potlikker Papers*

Week 6               (Skype with Julia Turshen)                                                    
                                                                        -Selections from Bruce McEver*
                                                                        -Q & A lesson/prep for talk with Julia Turshen

                                                                        -Feed The Resistance (p 1-51)
-In Class Workshop
-Skype Q & A with Julia Turshen!
-Feed The Resistance (p 52-105)
-In Class Workshop
-Readings from our composition text

Week 7                             Project 2: Food Deserts                                                                                                  
-Project 1 Due
-Selections from Christopher Collins*  
-Project 2 Assigned
-Readings from our composition text
-Selection from Spaces of Global Capitalism*
-Workshop in Class
Th 2/22 Poetry@tech event 7:30 PM Kress Auditorium

                                                                        -“Pedagogy of The Oppressed”*
-Feed The Resistance (p 108-143)

Week 8                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                        -Selections from Atlanta Rising*
                                                                        -Selection from White Flight*
                                                                        -Workshop in Class
Week 9                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                        -Workshop in Class
                                                                        -Presentations to, and Assessment by Mario Cambardella
                                                                        -Proposal/action plan for this week’s revisions  (based on
              feedback from 3/7)
Week 10                           Revisions    /   Project 3: Food Lexicon Podcast                                                           
                                                                        -Visit from Charlie Bennet (date subject to change)
                                                                        -Selections from The Age of Wire and String (“Food”)*
                                                                        -Project 3 Assigned
Week 11             No Classes (spring break)                                                                                                                

Week 12             Project 3: Food Lexicon Podcast                                                                                                   
                                                                       -Introduce “Gravy” (From the Southern Foodways Alliance)
- In class workshop
                                                                        -Readings from our composition text
                                                                        -White Papers/Food Alliance documents*                                                                                                 -Readings from our composition text
Week 13                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                        -Selections from Tarfia Faizullah*
                                                                        -In Class Workshop
                                           -Revisions of Project 2 Due: Presentations in Class
Week 14                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                        -Selections from David Bottoms*
-In Class Workshop
                                                                        -Selections from Stuart Dischell*              
-In Class Workshop

              Th 4/12 Poetry@tech event 7:30 Kress Auditorium

                                                                        -Project 3: Lexicon Due
Week 15             Portfolio/Revisions                                                                                                                           
              -in class work on portfolios
Week 16                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                        -play apples to apples (I have a method)

Description of Projects
Common First Week Assignment                                                                
Create an individual video (60-90 seconds) in which you articulate a challenge relating to one of the WOVEN modes (written, oral, visual, electronic, or nonverbal communication) specific to this semester’s class projects.
Resource Infographic                                                                                       
1: Recipe Map                                                                        
Students will work in small groups (determined by instructor) to create a map of an Atlanta-specific food or drink. Groups will submit a proposal for approval, create the multimodal artifact, write a statement of contribution, and present the artifact to the class.
2: Food Deserts in Atlanta                                                               
Students will work in groups to create a multimodal solution to either food deserts or food swaps in Atlanta. Groups will submit a proposal for approval, create the multimodal artifact, and write individual reflections. Ultimately, these projects will be presented to the class and Mario Cambardella (the Urban Ag Director of the Mayoral office). Mr. Cambardella will be present to provide feedback on presentations, with which students can use for the final draft of their artifacts.

3: Lexicon         (Podcast)                                                                  

Students will work in small groups (determined by instructor) to create podcasts in response to currently existing food lexicons in Atlanta. Groups will submit a proposal for approval, create the multimodal artifact, write both a statement of contribution and an artist’s statement. The combined lexicons will come together as whole class project.  

That's all, folks! #souphound says to go wiggle, because it's Friday and we should always wiggle. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Dirty South 2/3: A Return To Mushrooms

I've been working on my fear of mushrooms for a while now. I had some that I actually wanted to eat more of (yes, yes I did). My first time at Muss & Turner's, in July, is where I found them. Once I finally moved down here I went back.

It took me until October, I've been busy. They didn't have them on the seasonal menu (bravery went back in my pocket).That week I had taught found poetry in my classes. 

Don't teach what you don't do. So this is what I did: I made a found poem from my journal. I took one, random, word from each daily journal entry between when I was first there and when I went back. That's a sentence a day between July and now, more or less. I need to thank all of my students for putting this bug in my head.

(I had the cheese plate. They put together a goooood cheese plate. And kids, if you're reading, yes, that is a series of pictures of me drinking ONE cocktail. Do Not Drink and Drive and Do Not Dare think of drinking underage. Seriously.)

I had concerns about if I should tell my students what I had done to my journal. Still uncertain about that part. I hadn't done this before. My fears of mushrooms and public poetry--it's a two in one blog post! This poem is, obviously, called "Mushrooms." (full text at bottom)

Note: Muss and Turner's has not approved this poem. I, however, do approve them as my favorite restaurant here. Go eat all their foods. 


Me again, me nested here with rose-tea
Dad’s drier books still out here

Transplant great chickpeas
Tiny hot cupid coupons

Serious story packages unpacked 
pretend world class dogfood jealousy

Fun hair Fun Success Fun Sunday definitely Fun
Good work neato pj times

Sleep office account 
peaceful place
grant it

Thankful tired day, relaxed thing stares 
Bullshit claustrophobic 
Acetaminophen week

Happy Snake Salad Week 
Out heartbroken hurt place
Comfort me well ug army

Name things that storm place, ledbelly
It helps me place detox tonight

Yes, even love again
Peaceful place, right time, beautiful rush

come back


Me again, me nested here with rose-tea
Dad’s drier books still out here

Transplant great chickpeas
Tiny hot cupid coupons

Serious story packages unpacked
pretend world class dogfood jealousy

Fun hair Fun Success Fun Sunday definitely Fun
Good work neato pj times

Sleep office account
peaceful place
grant it

Thankful tired day, relaxed thing stares
Bullshit claustrophobic
Acetaminophen week

Happy Snake Salad Week
Out heartbroken hurt place
Comfort me well ug army

Name things that storm place, ledbelly
It helps me place detox tonight

Yes, even love again
Peaceful place, right time, beautiful rush

come back

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Daffodil and the Mud Puddle (Narcissus poeticus)

Came to be used as the name for “daffodil,” but we are unclear on which came first—the man in the myth, or Narcissus poeticus. The narcissistic chicken or the egg-like bulby flowers.

This is what they had said. The same one—Pliny The Elder—to turn the phrase, “home is where the heart is,” says the flower is named for it’s scent: “I grow numb.” But not for the young hunter.

Imagine Daffodil at a mud puddle. Water cloudy with muddling, maybe Bacchus had come through in a dance. Daffodil stares at that water ignoring any footprints that had come in or out. Wonders (like flowers do).

Narcissus, that hunter, is said to be what we know well. Self-absorbed with his own beauty, disdained those that loved him. Led to the pool that led him to his death.

Get this, the “lead em to the pool” character is literally named Nemesis. Seriously. “Nemesis.” It’s a bit heavy handed, no?

Maybe more than Nemesis was to blame. Maybe not.

The rest is vain, and deadly, history. “I grow numb.” I stay here until I can’t care enough to leave.

Things (creatures) in the forest tried to reason with Daffodil. Snake, Beaver, Tiger, Spider. She apologized in tears and flitted past them. “I’m sorry you had to look at me, I’m sorry I was even here.”

“you’re a Narcissist: get over yourself” : “you’re a daffodil: get over yourself”

“you’re my Nemesis: you’re trying to destroy me” : “you brought me here: I chose to look.”

“The things didn’t match the terms. Why don't you see that?” Daffodil didn’t have a good answer to that. She did what she does. She wintered. She worried about Nemesis. She still does. All the plants look different.

 “I am sludge, why leave this sludge.” : It is me” : “You are singular, why trust puddles.”

“I grow numb.”

And that’s it. No moral to the story. The “so what?” is this: There are a lot of puddles, and they have various levels of scry-ability.  Because everything isn’t a metaphor, yet this particular Lego of mythology is in so many death-stars of personal, and cruel, attacks.

Stepping on a Lego when barefooted is a specific pain. If you remember it from childhood it is likely unlike other things. You construct your adult life with particular contracts with Legos, and where they will or will not live in your adult life.

I don’t have any Legos. Pollen does enough damage to my eyes, ears, nose, throat. I’m not specifically allergic to daffodils more than I’m allergic to Legos, or ad hominem insults. I carry varying degrees of numbness to the three. Legos, maybe the least. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lustmord Kunst/ Blut und Boden 2/2

If there is a genre for a found blog, this post belongs in that. 

In 2001, in college, while still studying art, I did a paper on Lustmord Kunst. This genre of art fell into the "Degenerate Art" that Hitler loathed. See the fictional account of this in the movie "Max" . My father had saved my paper. When he died it was still in his files. Yesterday, I dug it out.

Germany's art in this time period has historically been explained as a result of economic frustration with anger projected onto bodies of women. In 2001 I agreed with that line of thinking. Watching the rise of the Alt-Right, and nazis in America Right Now makes me revisit that line of reasoning.  

That was the argument that explained how America got its current president: he appealed to the economically disenfranchised. Those that felt like this glorious land had let them down. 

Looking at stats, the economically disenfranchised didn't make up his base. And it wasn't all male.

Take your pick: the epidemic of violence and murder against transwomen, death threats for women that dare to engage in tech culture, a man that has said grab them by the pussy/bleeding out of her you know what/ lock her up lock her up. We've heard all the things. 

I suggest there is a different argument to make about Lustmord Kunst. I don't see it as a unique genre critiquing a unique moment in time and economic structure, in a particular boden. Perhaps it gives us a window into transboden misogyny. 

As we continue doing the work of re-turning to history, and various archives try to figure out what exactly American nazis are capable of doing, I am curious about what Burkeain equipment for living the artistic archive that confronted and clashed with ideologies of Blut und Boden. 

Or maybe something at the tip of our tongues, like rhetorics of violence against women in video games, for example, is a rabbit-hole back to the lustmord kunst archive that is worth exploring. Other wormholes in the arts: the NEH, Shia LeBouf, Fifty Shades of Grey, "How I Met Your Mother," and the comments on discussions re: Joss Whedon & feminism.  

Yes, art as resistance. Yes, doing the work to stop what we can. Yes, this American land is painted with billions of buckets of blood from genocide. Appeals to logic (logos) haven't done shit. Neither have appeals to ethos. 

Pathos, is that where we are at? Is that all that's left?? If so, bring on the art, and turn us back to the archive not only of nazi tactics, but the arts of resistance, failure and projections .of masculinity onto  bodies and boden. Pay attention to the things that we allegedly said never again about.  


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Blood and Soil/ Blut und Boden ½*

Late last summer I did private language lessons with a student. He’s a legitimate genius. To add insult to injury, he’s kind additionally cursed with good looks, commanding stature, and an inhuman magnetism. This combination will continue to allow him to climb the ranks of his career at an astronomical speed.

When things started getting ugly on the campaign trail, I explained words and idioms that he heard at the water cooler. Dumpster Fire. Basket of Deplorables. MRA. Birther.

And here? Nothing! For the African Americans, you turn on the news and hear white people calling them that n word and it is okay. There is still the holiday for Chris Columbus? How is this possible? Growing up you hear that America is for equality and opportunity. Then I come, and I see it is

He looks down at his notes

              A big dumpster fire. Yes?

I nod.

              He cannot win to be president, can he? You think he can? No.

---------                                             (this was almost exactly a year ago.)

              But… I don’t understand this place.

He did a few loud breaths and shook his head. He told me that it was illegal in Germany to so much as mockingly do the nazi-salute. He explained the variety of laws against any public expression of (my words, not his) physical or visual rhetoric of nazism.

I tell him that I had no idea! I tell him that I wish we had laws like that here—in any way. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to live in a country that takes its past wrongs that seriously.

I can’t even do it here in this room to show you, Darcy. It feels so wrong. From when we are in kinder we get in bad trouble if we do. I simply don’t understand how there are all these people here in America that can and there is no shame, let alone it is legal. What the fuck?

He explained "Blud und Boden"—it was the first time I heard the phrase.

This was one of Nazi ideas. Kind of like a slogan to shout. Or idiom maybe? Blut und Boden. Blood and Soil. Soil is country, and Boden is the idea of the country, the.... homeland? 


              Yes. We call it that, Muterland. Or Vaterland. Like Star Wars.

We laugh.

             The Blood is like family history, and also what you have to do to keep it. It, this "blut und                    boden"—

In English!

Okay, it was blood and soil, okay?, that was the idea behind the guy, I don’t even want to say his name, invading Europe and trying to take the world. It goes to before him. They even had these terrible, terrible paintings with the name

Blood and Soil?

              Yes, “Blahd and Soyelle,” (winks). They were so bad, but they were the high kunst.

English! (I was required to always prompt in English).

Yes, yes, ahhrrrt. The art. But we know this history in Germany and that is why we have laws against it. Not the art in specifically, but you cannot do anything Nazi. It’s the worst, no one would do it because it is so wrong. It is so hard to explain because it is so simple. You know?

I know. I know….

Today the U.N. condems POTUS (but not really by name) for refusing to call it what it is. “Failure at the highest political level.”

I think about the day that guy taught me that phrase. Don’t tell me soil isn’t political.  It’s part of the semiotics central to foundational nazi ideation systems. Words matter. ITMFA. 

*This blog has no kundst, it usually does, but not today. More on that in 2/2.