A new English class called "Writing About Everything through Fashion and Travel" is combining the typical class curricula with immersive activities and getting students into the kitchen.

Food, fashion, and travel, oh my! A new English class at Stephens is combining the typical curriculum with immersive activities. Taught by Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Kris Somerville, the goal of the class is to equip students with experiences that will lead to more detailed writing. 

“This is the first time I have taught this class,” Somerville said. “It sort of evolved from a class I used to teach, Writing and the Arts, in which the notion was that if you just learn how to write you can apply it to any discipline. I’ve read a lot of food writing and travel writing and fashion writing, and sometimes I feel that it’s just not rich enough and detailed enough. So, I thought that creating a class with provocative, rich writing and then having an experience that you can immediately attach to it would be beneficial.” 

The class meets twice a week, spending one day in the classroom and one day in the kitchen. One of their first projects involved reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Ketchup Conundrum,” which tries to explain why Heinz ketchup has dominated the market. Students got to make fries and hash browns and have a blind ketchup tasting between Heinz and a few gourmet ketchups. According to Somerville, Heinz won hands down. 

“To me, the class is proving challenging because it is interesting to come up with a project for the kitchen portion that you can do in an hour and fifteen minutes,” Somerville said. “I did not think about that part.” 

Some other projects have included making cheesecake and crêpes. For crêpes, friend of the class Jackie Verdun Baugher gave a demonstration as well as advice on the best crêpe toppings. To complete their cooking, the class even has custom-made aprons from the on-campus, student-run Screen Queens Print Shop

“Crêpes have been my favorite,” Somerville said. “It has the level of participation to it that is difficult to achieve.”

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