Research Seminar on Food Call for Applications

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
—Virginia Woolf

Call for Applications

Food is a foundational aspect of all human cultures. The manifold ways we grow, prepare, regulate, and share what we eat gives shape to identities both cultural and political, ethnic and national. Food preparation is a source of enormous creativity—our kitchens are social sites where tradition mixes with innovation amid a now global flow of ingredients, tastes, and techniques. Eating itself lies at the very core of most world religions, giving rise to ritual as well as to values like hospitality and generosity. In the arts, we find food everywhere, from early images of hunters scratched into rock through Renaissance still lives and modern cinema. It’s there in the earliest recorded literatures, like the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and it drives the plots of Renaissance plays and contemporary dystopian novels.

Some of the great cultural and historical shifts in human history can also be traced to changing food ways. Agricultural innovations, like the plow, and ecological disasters, like the Irish famines, have concentrated populations and dispersed them. We see the evidence of these great migrations in abandoned Mayan ruins and in the towns of western Oklahoma where the prairie turned to desert amid the Great Dust Bowl. Today, the industrialization of food production is changing what and how we eat, simultaneously contributing to climate change even while generating vast new global food supplies. The language of food, furthermore, shapes the very ways we write and speak about ourselves: taste and hunger, consumption and starvation—such words borrow the rituals of the table to describe our pleasure, desire, and pain. Food, in short, is an essential element of the human condition and throughout the 2016-17 academic year, the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will explore its human dimensions through a diverse array of programs including concerts, performances, film screenings, exhibitions, discussions, lectures, cooking demonstrations, and shared meals.

In order to support this work, the OCH invites public applications to the Interdisciplinary Humanities Seminar. The seminar will convene once a week through the fall 2016 semester and will build around the expertise of each participant to launch an intensive investigation of food, assisted by visiting speakers, artists, and performers. In the spring, participants will share their work with the larger community through talks, performances, colloquia, debates, and other events. The Center encourages interdisciplinary work and welcomes a broad interpretation of the theme that will carry our investigations across all kinds of intellectual, critical, experimental, and aesthetic areas. Anyone interested in the topic is welcome to apply. For more information visit

Application for the 2016-2017 Humanities Research Seminar

Description: The Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Seminar sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at the University of Tulsa is intended to promote engaged, intellectual discussion on topics of current public and intellectual interest. Every year, a group of approximately eight Research Fellows will be chosen to collaborate on a series of weekly seminar discussions. It is hoped that these discussions will then lead into further projects, undertaken collectively or individually. These might include digital projects, performances, creative works, or activities designed to spur civic action and service. The admissions committee will judge applications based on an assessment of the proposal’s interdisciplinary appeal and its potential for sparking dialogue.

Eligibility: Anyone whose public, private, or professional interests would benefit from involvement in the seminar is eligible to apply. Finalists will be asked to participate in a short interview with a member of the Center’s staff. Fellows will be eligible to receive a small stipend to defray any direct costs associated with their participation.

Requirements: The seminar will convene for three hours each week at the University of Tulsa from August 22nd to December 5th, 2016. Fellows are expected to participate in all seminar sessions and to present some aspect of their work at an appropriate public forum in the spring of 2017.
Theme: The theme for the 2016-2017 seminar will be Food. You are encouraged to interpret this topic broadly and in ways that are appropriate to your own fields of interest or expertise.

Application: Applications for participation in the seminar should include the following:

  • A resume or CV, including contact information
  • A brief letter of reference
  • Full responses to the three application questions listed below

Applications should be sent by electronic attachment to:


Please direct any questions to Sean Latham (

Application Questions (no more than 1,500 words total):

  1. Why does the topic of food interest you and how does it connect your civic, professional, intellectual, personal, or artistic interests?
  2. How would participation in this seminar contribute to your own work or interests? What kind of project do see coming out of your participation in the seminar?
  3. Provide a short list of works (books, images, performances, films, articles, etc.) that you believe raise important issues in regard to food.