Assistant Professor Kris Somerville is in Seattle this week presenting at the prestigious Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference.
Somerville will present “Attack of the Beige Eaters” during a panel discussion, “Go Somewhere, Write Something: Teaching Influential Experience,” which focuses on giving students real-life experiences worth writing about. The conference is being held at the Washington State Convention Center through March 1.
The paper was inspired by a class project Somerville implemented two years ago in her advanced composition course. The class happened to be around the noon hour, and many of her students were bringing their lunches—think pizza, chicken, fries—with them to class.
When Somerville, a guest food blogger for the Columbia Daily Tribune, mentioned that she was doing an article on sardines, students cringed. Of course they’d never actually tasted sardines, and that prompted an experiential learning activity.
Somerville decided to challenge her students to try new foods—including sardines. Every Friday, she would bring in an exotic fish, cheese or fruit and challenge them to describe what they tasted without using obvious details such as “salty.” Students could also write food-related memoirs if certain tastes brought up any particular memory. Not only did the exercise expose them to new foods, it also helped them develop writing skills.
The activity was so successful, she plans to implement it in her writing class again this semester.
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