By Millie Brasser
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa.- Penn State New Kensington professor of English 179, Andrea Adolph, has explored the literature of food and how it currently trends in American food writing as well as examining the historical and contemporary aspect of food environmental sustainability. Her researchfocuses on multiple backgrounds and various approaches, according to the students that have enjoyed her classes.
With her passion for teaching, Adolph helps others to learn how to examine American food and the environment. With her background, she explores the gender roles and different aspects of women’s relationships and food. She tries toconnect the dots that link other aspects of culture, which perhaps we don’t do very often, and to consider that at food rationing during World War II in England.
Adolph teaches her lessons based off of the book the “Bite to Eat Place” and an anthology of contemporary food poetry and poetic prose that examine how the use of food was published in 1995. She has a couple of poems in the book, written by her co-editors from Canada also in addition to U.S. like Margaret Atwood and Brenda Hillman.
Adolph teaches about food from all different angles and sometimes simply uses food as a metaphor to discuss other issues all over the world. The students learned to read and analyze poems that help them to think about this and one of them is “Images of Fruit,” a metaphoric story of Adam and Eve from Genesis in the Bible. It talks about either temptation, sexuality or problems that are different ways of using that fruit in the story to think about bigger issues. “Think about what it means to be human and how humans express themselves,” she said.
One of Adolph’s students, Ryan W. Long, explained his thoughts on the subject.“There are several poems and articles that we’ve read so far,” said Long in an email. “ I would have to say, my favorite poem so far is probably ‘Pears,’ by Linda Pastan.”
“This poem was biblically related, and I like that. Although it was a short poem, there were a few things that made you really think about the creation story of Adam and Eve. Attending class and talking about food for an hour and 15 minutes, always makes me very hungry when I leave,” he added.
Adolph not only teaches poems about food, but she also teaches students to think about the way you eat. She is using a book called “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan, who has written about eating more sustainable food in a way that’s not only healthy, but sustainable for the environment too. She gives the opportunity to think about why people don’t want to eat meat or chicken or why they want to eat artificially flavored food, which might not be healthy. “They would change their ways and understand these bigger global issues,” said Adolph. Adolph’s passion enables the students to understand subjects about food, literature poems, culture, etc.
“Don’t be afraid to read poems to think about literature,” Adolph said. She wants the students to feel confident in their own abilities to read and think, and also to consider other people’s experiences and what is important to them in their life and their world. She hopes to use the literature as the way to challenge them to think about other things and other kinds of people.
“Students love her,” Long said. “ Yes, I do like the class. I have learned several things about food that I never knew about before. My knowledge of food has been increased since taking the class. When I first walked into the class, honestly, I expected just to talk about food, food, food! That was not the case. Dr. Adolph has found a way to integrate different stories, class activities, poems, etc. to make things more interesting.”
Another student from her class, Jayleen Chagolla said, “what I love from Dr. Andrea’s class is that we delve and take a different approach into aspects of food and would be able to get an understanding other food cultures, all while I share my own.”