ResourcesFor filmmakers and educators
Other Film Resources
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Below are some resources that we have used to think through madeleine film projects and guide students in secondary and university classrooms. The bibliography is annotated so as to give additional guidance to those seeking it.
Defining the Madeleine and Cultural Perspectives:
Korsmeyer, C., ed. The Taste Culture Reader: Experiencing Food and Drink. Berg, 2005.
If your budget is tight and you can only afford one book, this is the one to purchase. This edited collection by philosopher Carolyn Korsmeyer contains articles or excerpts from foundational texts written by novelists, sociologists, historians, philosophers, anthropologists and others.
For the madeleine project, “Part VII: Taste, Emotion and Memory” is especially useful. It holds texts from key authors discussed in this bibliography: Proust (“The Madeleine”), Seremetakis (“The Breast of Aphrodite”), Sutton (“Synesthesia, Memory and the Taste of Home”). It also includes “Food and Emotion” by sociologist Deborah Lupton, “The Pale Yellow Glove” by novelist MFK Fisher and recipes for a Christmas Cake and a Sunshine Cake.
Proust, M. “The Madeline.” (excerpt from In Search of Lost Time) in The Taste Culture Reader: Experiencing Food and Drink. C, Korsmeyer, ed. Berg, 2005.
This is THE madeleine excerpt from Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time. It is the foundational text for this project. It can be adapted to most audiences: a small citation or paragraph for younger students, and the entire 3 to 4 page text for adults. Of course, you may also be interested in reading the entire novel as well. This text makes an impact; it rarely leaves its audience indifferent.
Seremetakis, C.N.. The Senses Still. The University of Chicago Press, 1996.
The Senses Still contains beautifully written auto-ethnographic texts by Greek anthropologist Nadia Seremetakis. (An auto-ethnographic text is a kind of autobiographic text that pays close attention to wider socio-cultural processes). The passage about a peach (“The Breast of Aphrodite”) ponders the loss of memory foods. When happen when a particular variety of peach is lost forever? This section of the text has also been reprinted in Korsemeyer’s work (see above). Part II examines in rich detail the embodied relationship between granddaughter and grandmother in an era of rapid modernization. The role of food, the senses, memory, commensality (or eating together) and the imagination all hold prominent roles. University students are often inspired by these texts. Our assumption is that the texts, or excerpts, are also accessible to secondary or high school students.
Sutton, D. Remembrance of Repasts: An Anthropology of Food and Memory. Berg, 2001.
This work, by American anthropologist David Sutton, is of particular importance to our madeleine projects, especially Chapter 3 (Sensory Memory and the Construction of “Worlds”). An abridged version of this chapter can be found in Korseymer’s collection (see above), and this abridged version is generally the one we use in class. Sutton’s writing is most easily accessible to university students, though the ideas it contains guide our work with secondary students in important ways. (Indeed our mind map exercise below is based on Sutton’s notion of a “whole”).
If Proust first examined the ways in which our sensory exchanges with a particular food or drink can transport us back in time, Sutton considers how madeleine foods transport us across borders to the places we call home. Sutton shows how foods from Greece help Greek migrants “return to a whole”, or to a sense of relatedness and connection. He shows us that these foods, and the feelings of belonging they allow for, are extremely important, especially for those who are “displaced” or “out of place” in some way, and thus experiencing feelings of alienation and isolation. In these ways, Sutton helps us to actualize the notion of the madeleine. Such foods are not only about reconnecting to a past, and not just about some essential French rural or national character (as Proust’s Madeleine can sometimes be understood in France). It is about the power of food – through sensory exchange and remembrance – to help maintain (and sometime reinvent) connection, to build identities and homes across borders. The madeleine is not only for remembering the past, but for building foundations for the future.
Interviewing and ethics:
American Anthropological Association, The Principles of Professional Responsibility
The interview process, as well as the representation (through film, text, etc.) of that process and the individual interviewed, must be guided by a set of ethical principles aimed, in particular, at protecting the interviewee. For our project, we followed the ethical principles developed and published by The American Anthropological Association in 2012.
In the classroom, we introduce these ethical principles to our students; they are easily accessible to all ages (the first one, for example, is Do No Harm). We ask that filmmakers follow these ethical principles as well. All films submitted to our site need to be accompanied by a consent form signed by the interviewee. For educators, the AAA ethics blog has many additional resources to help with a discussion of ethics in the classroom.
Conquergood, D.. “Performing as a Moral Act: Ethical Dimensions of the Ethnography of Performance.” Text and Performance Quarterly , vol. 5, no.2, 1985, pp. 1-13.
Dwight Conquergood (1949-2004) is focused in particular on performance ethnography, but can be useful for helping students to think about ethics as not simply a set of rules to be followed but as an interactional process shaped by the ways we imagine our self and the other. In particular, the moral pitfalls (or performative stances towards the other) mapped and discussed in the article can make for interesting class discussion.
Counihan, C. “Studying Food and Culture: Ethnographic Methods in the Classroom.” In Food Culture: Anthropology, Linguistics and Food Studies. J. Chrzan and J. Brett, eds. Berghahn, 2017
Several articles in this volume may be of interest, and are written for the field of “food studies” so accessible across disciplines. This article is a basic introduction, with a solid bibliography, to participant observation and interviewing methodologies. Counihan, as always, writes with a clear and accessible style. Her research on food-centered life histories using feminist perspectives may also be of interest.
Chapter 2 (“Do I really need a method?” A Method…or Deep Hanging Out) is useful to students because it provides a clear and pragmatic approach to interviewing, and also widens the scope to include other concerns such as research design, building rapport and coding interviews transcripts. Her chapter on methods and ethics may also be helpful.
Madison, D. S. Critical Ethnography: Method, Ethics and Performance. Sage, 2011
Soyini Madison is a professor of performance studies at Northwestern University (and following in the footsteps of Dwight Conquergood). Christy finds Chapter 2 (“Do I really need a method?” A Method…or Deep Hanging Out) to be useful to students because it provides a clear and pragmatic approach to interviewing, and also widens the scope to include other concerns such as research design, building rapport and coding interviews transcripts. Her chapter on methods and ethics may also be of use.
Pink, S. Doing Sensory Ethnography. Sage, 2009.
Helping yourself or an interviewee articulate their sensory perceptions or food memories is a very challenging task. Sarah Pink’s work helps us to think about the senses in more depth. In particular, we suggest Chapter 3 (Preparing for Sensory Research: Practical and Orientation Issues). The discussion on sensory subjectivity and intersubjectivity helps us grasp the idea that there is no single taste for any food, and that sensory perception is both uniquely individual and socially shared. It also helps us to envision an ethnographic process that involves self and other. Chapter 5 (Articulating Emplaced Knowledge: Understanding Sensory Experiences through Interviews) may also be helpful because it focuses on interviewing.
Spradley, James. (1979, and reprinted in 2016) The Ethnographic Interview. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Learning.
Written in the 1970s by anthropologist James Spradley (1933-1982), this work has aged in many ways. However, Spradley’s step-by-step introduction to ethnographic interviewing (and there is another book on participant observation) remains among the most accessible and useful. It is written for the novice and guides that novice through the entire process. Indeed, this work was reprinted in 2016, and many current methodology texts cite or build upon Spradley’s work. For the madeleine project, Spradley’s “descriptive questions” are particularly important. When teaching the madeleine project at the secondary school level or at the university level, we focus almost uniquely on descriptive questions.
Film and Filming:
Basic Camera Shots for Filmmaking, Martin Curley Visuals.
A general overview of the various types of camera angles and shots to use while filming. This tutorial outlines techniques that one can use to help better communicate their story through deliberate use of the camera movements.
Types of Shots
Passard, Alan. Chef's Table. 2017. (Film)
From the acclaimed series Chef’s Table, this excerpt from the Alan Passard episode encapsulates the madeleine’s ability to transport an individual to another time. Passard reflects on cooking with his grandmother and the way in which he still today is immersed in these memories.
Gubrium, Aline, and Krista Harper. Participatory Visual and Digital Methods. Routledge, 2016.
Rosenthal, Alan and Ned Eckhardt. Writing, Directing, and Producing Documentary Films and Digital Videos. Vol. Fifth edition, Southern Illinois University Press, 2016.
Wang, Caroline, and Mary Ann Burris. “Photovoice: Concept, Methodology, and Use for Participatory Needs Assessment.” Health Education & Behavior, vol. 24, no. 3, 1997, pp. 369–387., doi:10.1177/109019819702400309.
Past Madeleine projects:
Shields, Christy, in collaboration with Beth Grannis. “Food without Borders: Proustian Anthropology and Collaborative Storytelling with an Experimental Sixth-Grade Class in Paris”. July 2019.
For the blog of the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (a section of the American Anthropological Association).
Other film resources
El Paso Food Voices
A collection of food stories gathered from home cooks, professional chefs, restaurant owners, community educators and others from across El Paso, Texas. Scholar Meredith Abarca is the creator, editor and curator or El Paso Food Voices.
Food Without Borders
This is a link to our Food without Borders project: a madeleine project carried out in a collaboration between The American University of Paris and Maurice Ravel Junior High in Paris, France in 2017-2018. Food without Borders stands as a main inspiration for Madeleine Shorts and continues to encourage cross-cultural collaboration among its participants and viewers.
Southern Food Alliance
Website: : https://www.southernfoodways.org/
SFA films document the lives of foodways practitioners, including cooks, farmers, waiters, restaurant owners and a range of others throughout the American South. Founded at the University of Mississippi, Southern Food Alliance produces stories about the culture of food through films, podcasts, and written works exploring such connections within the region.
The Whole Taste
This film was made by AUP students during a fieldtrip to the Jura mountains to encounter the women and men of Comté. While not a madeleine film per se, it does focus on the centrality of the senses and terroir to solidarity within the Comté chain. It may be of interest and of use in a classroom.
Kitchen Stories (Norway), directed by Bent Hamer, 2003.
There are many wonderful food films in the world today, but this particular film remains one of the best for thinking about the difference between quantitative and qualitative approaches to interviewing: or the difference between collecting and counting responses to fixed questions as opposed to engaging in a collaborative conversation over time that involves the exchange of substances (like food), emotions and acts of solidarity. The film is readily accessible to all audiences (though it is in Norwegian and subtitled, which might pose a problem for secondary school classrooms).
A few classroom activities
Here are just two ideas we developed to aid in the secondary school classroom, though both can be adapted to the university classroom as well. They may also be helpful for thinking through a Madeleine Project on your own. We have many more techniques, worksheets and games, and hope to share these on this site over time.
The Madeleine Mind Map
This very simple mind map model can be used by a single individual interested in a madeleine project and also be adapted to all age levels in the classroom. Indeed, our secondary school students as well as our university students found it equally engaging.
We use it at three different parts in the process: first, to conceptualize the project; second, to self-reflect; and third, to develop good open-ended interview questions. Here is more detail for each step.
1. When introducing the project, we watch Beth’s 3-minute film “This Place Doesn’t Exist Anymore”: Food and Memory Among Syrian Refugees”.
With the “mind map” in mind, we then ask students to share what they learned about Saad (the interviewee) during the course of the film. We write their comments on the board, already organizing them in the categories on the map, thought without naming those categories (or revealing the map) initially.
After the class is done sharing (and all categories are present), we then circle each category (ensemble of words) and write the name of category above the circle (people, places, etc.).
We then introduce the idea that a “madeleine” (or for secondary students, we tend to call them “connector foods”) can give us access to a “whole world”, and it is this world we are trying to capture
2. In a next step then, we generally: give students a mind map worksheet, ask them to place their own memory food in the center, and then fill out the different bubbles. They can do this with words, images, citations, recipe cards etc. The idea is that before interviewing another they think through all these categories with their own food. One could also imagine asking them to do a collage, etc.
3. Third, after introducing in-depth interviewing (establishing contact, building a rapport, etc.), interviewing ethics and descriptive questions, we then hand out the mind map again and ask students to write (brainstorm) at least 1 (if not 2, or 3) descriptive questions (see Spradley) that might help the interviewee elaborate each of these areas. These questions will eventually be worked into an interview guide but it is a great way to work them into that process.
Role Playing Rapport
Madeleine films rely on good in-depth interviewing skills. An in-depth interview is one that is based on open-ended questions and not closed questions. A closed question is usually found on a questionnaire: people can respond with a yes or no; they can respond with an agree or disagree. An open questions asks the interview to describe, explain, elaborate, remember; it asks them to tell their story (or stories). If you are unfamiliar with this kind of interviewing you may very well want to read a few of the articles and chapters listed in the bibliography before you begin.
Interviewing seems like such a simple thing: one person asks questions and the other responds. And yet in practice it is certainly one of the most difficult things we can do especially when the topic involves powerful emotions, sensory perceptions and precious (and perhaps also painful) memories. Such aspects of the human experience are difficult to articulate individually, let alone within a shared conversation. They may also make both interviewee and interviewer feel vulnerable, unsure or even frustrated. So this is a kind of conversing that takes time and patience and cooperation.
One way to start thinking about this is to talk with students about “building a rapport”. In other words, building a trusting relationship with the interviewee. At the very least this involves such things as : paying close attention to the interviewee and remaining engaged in the conversation; maintaining eye contact; not expressing judgment of what they are saying (something that can be done quite easily without us knowing); not getting so swept up in note taking or filming that we forget to pay attention to the interviewee, etc.
With secondary students, once we have discussed rapport building, we then do some role playing. It was particularly fun in the Food without Borders project, when university students came with us into the sixth grade class and role played poor interviewing behavior. They would act out “not paying attention” or “expressing judgment” and then the sixth graders would need to tell them what they did wrong and explain why. It was great fun for everyone and really brought the concepts home. We are assuming that such role-playing could be adapted to the university classroom as well.