Grad Research: Ph.D. students Kerry Knerr and Elissa Underwood inaugural recipients of Les Dames D’Escoffier, Dallas Chapter Endowed Presidential Fellowships in American Studies

Steve Hoelscher; Mary Kimbrough*, Susan Auler*, Kerry Knerr, Elissa Underwood, Tracey Evers*, Marvin Bendele (Executive Director, Foodways Texas). * member of Les Dames D’Escoffier, Dallas Chapter

Steve Hoelscher; Mary Kimbrough*, Susan Auler*, Kerry Knerr, Elissa Underwood, Tracey Evers*, Marvin Bendele (Executive Director, Foodways Texas).
* member of Les Dames D’Escoffier, Dallas Chapter

A hearty congratulations to Ph.D. students Kerry Knerr and Elissa Underwood, who have been named the 2016 recipients of the Les Dames D’Escoffier, Dallas Chapter Endowed Presidential Fellowships in American Studies. Les Dames D’Escoffier of Dallas have offered their generous support of American Studies graduate scholarship at UT on topics relating to food studies.

Kerry Knerr’s project, “Cocktails, Class, and Conspicuous Consumption in the Progressive Era U.S.,” examines the early history of the American cocktail and its entanglement with American cultural imperialism. The project will build upon her master’s report, “In Search of a Good Drink: Punches, Cocktails, and Imperial Consumption,” currently under review at Global Food History. In it Kerry argues that understanding the material aspects of alcohol consumption (what people are doing), through close readings of recipe collections and material cultures of public and home bars, can ground otherwise nebulous discourses (what people are saying) of social movements, gender politics, or class formation. Kerry will conduct research at the National Food and Beverage Foundation in New Orleans, which houses both the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and the Museum of the American Cocktail. There she will analyze menus, published cookbooks or bar manuals, private recipe collections, newspaper clippings, and photographs.

Elissa Underwood’s project, “Women and Food in Carceral Spaces,” will explore women’s understandings of and experiences with food and foodways, including specific nutritional needs and distinct relationships with food, during and after incarceration by conducting oral histories with formerly incarcerated women in Texas. Elissa will interview women working and learning or perfecting skills in food-based industries, as well as women who have started their own food-based companies or non-profit organizations specifically aimed at combating recidivism and/or preventing incarceration.

The winners were announced at this year’s Foodways Texas conference, an organization now housed in the Department of American Studies. For more on the conference, check out this very in-depth, fascinating recap of the weekend of festivities.

Announcement: UT American Studies Receives $100K Endowment to Support Food Studies Research

The good news continues! Last week, UT AMS department chair Dr. Elizabeth Engelhardt announced that the department has received a $100,000 Presidential Fellowship from Les Dames D’Escoffier Dallas Chapter to support dissertation research on Texas, women, and food culture.

LDE is an organization of professional women who work in the food, fine beverage, and hospitality industries; Dr. Engelhardt says that their support, the first of its kind for the department, will “play a leading role in increasing the stability of the department into the future, inspiring other such endowments as we work with development and other donors.” Additionally, it, in combination with the recent merging of Texas Foodways into UT AMS, “will help put UT Austin on the map as a leader in food studies in the humanities.”

Thanks to LDE’s Dallas Chapter for their support!

For the full press release, click here.

Grad Research: JFK, Reality, and Mediation at the Sixth Floor Museum

I probably don’t have to tell you that Austin is a vibrant, exciting place to live and work: with a killer live music scene, ubiquitous tacos, and barbecue that’ll make you weak in the knees, it certainly ranks near the top of my favorite cities in America list.

That said, one of the benefits of living in Austin has also been having opportunities to explore other parts of Texas, from Marfa to Houston. This past weekend, I decided to venture out of the Austin city limits to Dallas, a city I had only ever experienced through way too many layovers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Though Dallas has its share of tourist destinations, my motivation was research-related. At the moment, I’m knee-deep in my Master’s Report, which explores representations of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in two video games, and how their odd, perhaps ethically questionable gamification of the event – an incredibly traumatic moment in American history – reconfigures and negotiates our understanding of history and politics. What kind of residue is left in our historical memory if we play these games? What do they do to our imaginations of power, official state accounts of history, our ability to interact with history and meaning-making? How do we understand history if we only experience it virtually?

But to me, a 25-year old, Kennedy’s assassination always felt remote, a moment in a textbook rather than a lived, traumatic experience. So I embarked on a journey to the place where it happened, to make it feel as real as it probably could to someone who was never there: Dealey Plaza, and the Texas State Book Depository, now a museum dedicated to Kennedy and the assassination.

Placard on the museum's exterior (click to enlarge; photo by author)

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