Discovering Digital Humanities: Food Culture as a Case Study in the Visual and Representational

In our increasingly digital world, our viewing experience changes every day. Digital Humanities has made its way into our visual culture and art history scholarship, and I am excited to learn about its history, critical debates, and implications for studying visual culture and art history. My methodology will be to first study the field of Digital Humanities, then to work on my case study on the representation of food culture. The research and knowledge production process is inescapably going to become more digitized and automated, so we as students and scholars must assure that the research we have done and will do is not completely handed over to computers. Using the methods of this field changes the types of questions we ask and how we express our knowledge. And when we express knowledge and ask new questions, scholarship grows. The recent growth in work in Digital Humanities confirms this assertion. After deeply examining my foundational questions about Digital Humanities, we can then learn about how Digital Humanities encompasses digital narratives about the visual and the representational. To investigate this important issue in depth, I have conducted a case study about the visual and representational in our contemporary food culture. My research questions include: How have our food practices become visualized, narrativized, and mediated by technology? I will examine television programs, social media and food, food photography, and well-known digital platforms like Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and other food blogs. It is important to delve into these platforms because to represent a culture’s food practices also acts as representing a microcosm of that culture- potentially affirming or subverting stereotypes surrounding that particular place. Further, this examination tells us a lot about ourselves: how do we view and relate to food as a source of sustenance and pleasure? How and why do we represent what is important to us when we represent these themes digitally? This case study will offer just one of many reasons why Digital Humanities is significant to our future. My final project is uniquely positioned to emerge from my research: I have produced a poster illustrating my findings and a digital site about my case study. This digital site is a small-scale DH project, that discusses food culture and showcases different Senegalese recipes. By doing this, I am confronting my viewers (the site surprisingly had a lot of traffic) not only about their preconceived ideas of Senegal, but how they view a digital site as well. In short, my website displays my findings on Digital Humanities and our visual culture and narrativization of food. It is an example of how can we use this new culture of food representation for good.

Project Link: https://cookingwithgarce.com/

Student Creator:

Grace Martin:  For the past (nearly) four years Grace Martin has been fortunate enough to have immersed herself in the Art History and Visual Culture program at Denison University (Granville, Ohio). Her analytical, critical, and research skills have grown and changed with each AHVC class she completes, and drive her to ask new questions as time goes on. This past summer she was a student researcher for the Young Scholars Program at Denison University, working alongside Dr. Joanna Grabski and Megan Hancock to discover the world of Digital Humanities specifically in regard to visual culture. In our increasingly digital world, our viewing experiences change every day; this is what excites Grace the most. While she is wildly unsure about where she will be in a year, she hopes to work with a team to create large scale DH projects, work in non-profits, and own a dog.