Southern Foodways - SSSL at MLA 2019

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Katharine A. Burnett, Fisk University
contact email: 

If “eating is a means of performing identity” and if “the way southerners eat is a text,” as critics David Davis and Tara Powell assert in their introduction to Writing in the Kitchen: Essays on Southern Literature and Foodways, then how do we think, talk, and write about culinary “textual transactions?”


The Society for the Study of Southern Literature is sponsoring a 2019 MLA panel on the changing landscape of southern foodways and food writing. Given the growing interest and debates on the topic, we are organizing a panel that discusses food writing and food in literature in the context of recent discussions and shifts in the field. Drawing upon the conference theme of “Textual Transactions,” this panel will consider the “mutually constitutive engagements” enacted not only by food itself but also by the ways in which food is written about, understood, and used as shorthand for and as a symbol for the U.S. South.


Possible themes or questions to consider include:

  • The ways in which writers and/or critics build from or ignore the Southern Foodways Alliance values statement, “All presentations and plates benefit from context.”

  • Literary representations of regional cuisine that complicate or further our understanding of southern consumers

  • Representations--literary or otherwise--of southern food that invite historical, contextual inquiry: for example, exploring a particular ingredient or recipe’s affiliation with one group or region despite its historical origins with another

  • Considering the roots and routes of regional cuisine to ask how movement and migration have changed both the reception and representation of so-called “regional” items


By Thursday, March 15, please submit 250-word abstracts along with A/V requirements and a short, 100-word bio to Katie Burnett, Fisk University (, Erica Abrams Locklear, UNC-Asheville (, and Monica Miller, Middle Georgia State University (