MLAN 390 – Food, Culture & Identities: Interview project:

MLAN 390 – Food, Culture & Identities: Interview project:


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· Identify an older person that you may interview about their relationship with food and cooking.

· Take notes during the interview; submit proof that the interview took place.

· Write a polished, well-organized 400-700 word summary of the interview.



time needed

due date

Submit the name of your interviewee and your interview questions in CougarCourses

30-45 min

Sunday Nov. 1

Make appointment, conduct interview

90 min

Monday Nov 30 (week 14)

Go over your notes, select relevant passages

90 min

finalize your draft, submit polished paper (400-700 words) and proof that interview took place

120-180 min

Monday Dec 7 (week 15)

Final project evaluation rubric:


Logistics/prep work:

you submitted the name of your interviewee and your interview questions in CougarCourses


you submitted sufficient proof that the interview took place


Final paper:


quantity: length sufficient (400-700 words for body of text)

you followed formatting instructions: paper includes

· your name,

· the name of interviewee and your relation to interviewee,

· a word count for the body of the text


mechanics: Correct use of spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, word choice, and sentence structure.


most main ideas are well developed and supported by appropriate detail (examples, anecdotes, stories)

Logistics – think ahead:

1. How will you take notes? voice or zoom recording? written notes?

2. How will you document that the interview happened? voice recording? zoom screen shots? photos of recipes? submit your notes?

3. How to be a good interviewer?

· Maintain good eye contact during the interview.

· Give the speaker time to think about and answer each question thoroughly.

· Be respectful, and do not interrupt while the speaker is talking.

· Follow the questions on your planning sheet, but you may also ask follow-up questions to expand on them. Ask for concrete examples, if appropriate.

· Have additional questions to ask ready on your list, in case you don’t get much information on some of them.

· Be prepared that some of the person’s answers might conflict with your own ideas or memories (if you talk to a family member). The interview is about listening to the person and recording their voice, not about judging the person or arguing a point.

HOMEWORK – SUBMIT the following items in the Forum:

1. Name of the interviewee: __________

2. Who is the person, in relation to you (family member, neighbor, work colleague, etc.): ____________

3. Planned date of the interview: _____________

4. Modality: __________ (e.g., in person, video call, voice call, other: _________?)

5. How will you record the interview? ___________ (e.g., handwritten notes, typed notes, voice recording, other: ________? )

6. Will you share some or all of the questions in advance with your interviewee? yes/no

7. Select at least 6 questions from the list below you will ask this person; you may add additional questions of your own, but you must include 6 questions from the list below. It’s a good strategy to have more than 6 questions on your list.

8. Submit the items above in the HW FORUM.

Questions: select questions from this list (below, the pronoun “they/their” is used in the singular, as a gender-neutral pronoun, it refers to a single person):

1. Do or did they cook? How do/did they feel about cooking — whether they actually cooked or not?

2. Who did/does the food shopping, and cleaning up?

3. What ethnic factors influenced the food that was/is cooked?

4. Do they use (or prohibit) convenience food? if it’s used, do they make an effort to personalize it?

5. How much “kitchen talk” goes on in the household? who participates, who doesn’t? who should participate but doesn’t?

6. How have their kitchen chores and expectations changed over the years?

7. Have they become more health-conscious?

8. Look at the person’s recipe collection for personal favorites and comments about them. Can the person’s recipes be read as a form of memoir or autobiography, telling some part of their life’s story?

9. To what extent is food a means of empowerment and to what extent is food a means of oppression?

10. Ask them about their food biography:

· When you were younger, what did you typically eat for breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?

· Where did your food come from?

· Did you grow any of it yourself?

· Did your family do anything to save or preserve food from one season to another?

11. Find a proverb, or a saying, or a quote about food/cooking/eating (from any culture, any source) and ask the person what they think about it.

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