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McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

The Fruits of Empire: A Book Talk About Art, Food and Racism

Tuesday, March 16, 2021 | 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Virtual Event

Join the WashU Alumni Association for a virtual conversation featuring Shana Klein, AB ’05, author of The Fruits of Empire: Art, Food and the Politics of Race in the Age of American Expansion. Angela Miller, professor of Art History and Archaeology, will be moderating the event.

Still-life paintings of food look innocent at first sight. Pictures of bowls bulging with oranges and grapes were fashionable in American dining rooms, but were fruits merely delicious gems in pretty pictures to admire? The Fruits of Empire argues otherwise. This book talk will discuss Klein's research on representations of food to understand how they reflected and shaped conversations about race and national expansion in the United States. In a moderated discussion, Klein will discuss the paintings, photographs, and silverware objects in her book and ask: Who do images of food serve? And at whose expense? The results are not always delicious.

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Speaker Information

Shana Klein is a professor and historian of American art. She holds a doctorate in Art History from the University of New Mexico, where she completed the dissertation—and now book—The Fruits of Empire: Art, Food, and the Politics of Race in the Age of American Expansion. This book investigates food in paintings, photographs, advertisements and cookbooks to understand how representations of fruit pressed upon the nation's most heated debates over race and citizenship. Klein has been awarded several fellowships for this research at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, among others. Klein’s research interests include American visual culture, food studies, race and post-colonial studies, and art and social justice. 

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