WRD 422: Public Advocacy: Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the U.S. South

*Coming Spring 2016*



In recent years, there has been a steady increase of interest in the transnational migrations of Mexican food popularized by television food shows and travel journalism. In addition to the immense number of trade publications and cook books, important social justice issues in regards to multilingualism, migrant labor and digital activism, to representations of Mexican cooking in film and literature, and to the translation of indigenous cuisine for corporate consumption in different contexts have also become topical. This course will examine transnational community food literacies, and how these connect stories of people build publics across borders. Students will explore the history and networks of Mexican and Mexican American food in the United States writing about recipes as well as rhetorics of authenticity, local variations to preparation or presentation, and how food literacies situate different spaces, identities, and forms of knowledge.


Required Texts

Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food by Jeffrey M. Pilcher

Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano

Tortillas: A Cultural History by Paula E. Morton



  1. Students will begin by writing their personal connections to Mexican food, their preferences and their sense of what Mexican food means culturally as part of American and global cuisine.
  2. Students will engage with the history of a particular dish of their preference and further research into the topic connected to variances, local varieties, and the movement of the dish to different locations.
  3. Students will engage the global perspective of the Pilcher text with the national context of Arellano tied to local, Kentucky responses and varieties of Mexican food.
  4. Students will engage a digital platform to blog reactions to texts and to publish their fieldwork and research into local Mexican restaurants.
  5. Students will produce reviews for three local restaurants focusing on the dish from Assignment 2.