Envision stepping into a classroom on your first day of college. Your first assignment? Write about your favorite Mexican dish. The second? Read a book called Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food. And the third? Go on a “taco tour” to local taco eateries in the area, eat as many tacos as you please, and hashtag the sh*t out of it on Instagram!
If you’re recognizing a theme here, that’s because the University of Kentucky is now offering a gangster new course titled “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the U.S. South,” where students literally eat, breathe, and write about tacos.
Trailblazed by assistant professor Steven Alvarez, the goal of this writing-based course is to teach students about the rich history of Mexican food in the South through the use of multimedia and food journalism.
In a recent interview, Alvarez says of the course, “I make them collect stories. I have students doing restaurant reviews and taco tours in the area… I [also] make my students post on Instagram and use hashtags as a form of archiving.
“At the very end of the course, my students will be generators of knowledge, have a portfolio full of multimedia food journalism, and they will be over the fajita stage of Mexican food.”
In addition to eating tacos and Instagraming them, Alvarez’s course will also hone in on the social connections that are commonly associated with food, with focuses on immigration, inequality, and intercultural communication.