Exploring how the mundane and quotidian is imbued with meaning and force, the UC Davis Humanities Institute Book Chat series kicked-off with a discussion of Bread, the newest book from Professor of English Scott Shershow.
Bread is part of the Object Lessons series from Bloomsbury Press — a series of concise, collectable, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things, edited by Ian Bogost and Christopher Schaberg, who received his Ph.D. in English from UC Davis.
Shershow explained how this book is “quite unlike anything I’ve done before, in both subject and style.” The subject matter, bread, is far from the topic of his last book Deconstructing Dignity, which Shershow described as an “emotionally difficult” book on the politics of euthanasia. Instead, Bread draws together Shershow’s historical and scriptural musings on the social and political life of bread with his personal experience in bread-baking. Attendees at the November 9 Book Chat were even treated to a still-warm loaf of Shershow’s sourdough.
“We are taught as scholars to not be personal,” Shershow said, “but this felt as much a piece of writing as a piece of scholarship.” The process of writing Bread, Shershow explained, opened him up to new forms of writing and other ways to experiment with personalizing scholarship while writing for a general audience.
The book is organized into nine short chapters, including “Bread Dance,” “Bread Dread,” and “Bread Line,” and touch on a hodge-podge of topics related to bread, including the political art and baking of the Bread & Puppet Theatre, popular Biblical verses in the parable of loaves and fishes and “man does not live by bread alone,” and even gluten-free and paleo dieting.
Save the dates below as the Book Chat series continues into the 2016-17 year — all events take place from 12:00—1:00 p.m. in 228 Voorhies:
- Thursday, December 1: Thomas D. Beamish, Community at Risk: Biodefense and the Collective Search for Security
- Wednesday, January 11: Chunjie Zhang, Travel, Literature, and Philosophy: Transculturality and German Discourse in the Age of European Colonialism
- Wednesday, March 8: Archana Venkatesan, In Andal’s Garden
- Wednesday, April 12: James Housefield, Playing with Earth and Sky: Astronomy, Geography, and the Art of Marcel Duchamp & Diana K. Davis, The Arid Lands: History, Power, Knowledge
- Wednesday, May 10: Eva Mroczek, The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity
– Stephanie Maroney, DHI Graduate Student Researcher and doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies