• Christian Rush, Gina Keplinger

Humanities on the Edge Preview: Charlotte Biltekoff


Charlotte Biltekoff, Associate Professor of American Studies and Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis, will present her talk “Real Food / Real Facts: Truth, Politics, and Power in the U.S. Food and Information Landscape.” You can expect to see her in Lincoln, Nebraska on Thursday, April 18th from 5:30-7:00p at the Sheldon Museum of Art’s Ethel S. Abbott Auditorium.

In addition to Biltekoff’s engaging talk that evening, she will be offering a workshop at the Sheldon on Thursday as well from 2:30-3:30p. This interactive discussion will center on multi-disciplinary collaboration for complex food system challenges. It will be an immersive experience as participants are invited to engage with the art currently exhibited at the Sheldon on the topic of food. The workshop is open to everyone, and though an RSVP is not necessary, Humanities on the Edge would appreciate you letting them know if you will attend so they might plan accordingly. You can reach the organizer, Marco Abel, at mabel2@unl.edu, letting him know if you plan on attending the workshop.

The concluding speaker in this year’s Humanities on the Edge series, Biltekoff joins the collective conversation around “Post-Truth Futures,” troubling our perceptions of processed foods, asking if they are “an unhealthy product of a troubled food system? Or a tasty, nutritious and convenient outcome of scientific and technical advancement?” Biltekoff is curious about ways we might define “natural” food and wonders, “should the FDA ban or regulate the use of the term? Can transparency restore trust in the food industry?” Though she has no plans to supply her audience with easy answers, Biltekoff’s talk will probe these questions further, holding them up to the light, demanding that we think about “the many ways in which the politics of truth and expertise shape tensions around ‘processed food’ and other food and agricultural technologies.”

With a Ph.D. in American Studies from Brown University and a background as a chef, Biltekoff’s research exists at the sharp intersection of the humanities and social sciences. Biltekoff is curious about the ways culture and its practitioners influence dietary habits, and her work, more broadly, seeks to understand where we ascribe expertise when it comes to our food production and consumption. She turns to both science and history for answers that orbit these subjects, folding people and their cultures into the conversation when data and the past, respectively, are not enough to achieve understanding.

We understand that this can be a busy time in the semester, so the authors recommend taking a look at a lecture that Biltekoff delivered in 2015 if you are unable to attend the local talk and interactive workshop.

We hope to see you in the audience.

Warmest regards,

C & G

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Biltekoff, C. (2019). Real Food/Real Facts: Truth, Politics, and Power in the US Food and Information Landscape.

Rush, Christian. "Mussels." 2018. JPEG File.

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