BHSU Geek Speak on Italian Food Creates Hunger for More

Author: BHSU Communications/Friday, October 5, 2018/Categories: Events, Community, Events, Faculty, Staff, 2018

Kelly Kirk and Carrie Gray-Wood, instructors at Black Hills State University, will lecture on “A Taste of Place: The History and Geography of Food in Italy” Thursday, Oct. 11 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall Room 110. As part of the Geek Speak lecture series, the presentation is free and open to the public.
Kirk and Gray-Wood, who co-taught a semester-long Honors course on the history and geography of food in Italy last spring, are excited to share how they believe food makes a great lens for showcasing human history and geography.
While many cultures have turned towards a hasty approach at food creation and consumption, Italy is the birthplace of the Slow Food movement. Italian culture and identity finds its roots in food, even in the most simple or complex of ingredients, traditions, and communities, Gray-Wood emphasizes.
“Gender, migration, religion, politics, medicine, climate, soils,” Gray-Wood lists, “economics, trade networks, class structure, cultural values, and ecology, to start, can all contribute to a single dish prepared thoughtfully.” This is part of what led Kirk and Gray-Wood to this topic.
“Day-to-day activities such as food studies are an understudied and underrepresented area in history and geography. Even a bottle of wine is unique to individual valleys due to microclimates, microbial communities, and soils,” Gray-Wood says.
Food studies are hot new areas in the fields of history and geography.  By studying foodways in Italy, Gray-Wood says Italian identity, history, and geography can be understood in a unique way, and people are able to develop a better appreciation and understanding for all of the factors that have influenced and created Italian cuisine and Italian culture. 
Some of those factors include the contributions of Muslim and/or Jewish traders and immigrants in Italy’s food culture.  Gray-Wood and Kirk will share how the harsh years in the 19th and early 20th century created food insecurity, and dishes naturally reflected this and how modern Italians fight to protect the spirit of a dish so strongly that many foods are protected by law.
Gray-Wood adds, if this piques the interest of any students or community members who would like to learn more, another course will be available through BHSU in the spring 2019 semester, with another faculty-led, research-based study abroad component to Florence and Bologna over Spring Break.
About BHSU Geek Speak:
The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students and the community to diversity within the disciplines. Some Geek Speaks are also presented at the Jacket Zone store located on Main Street in downtown Spearfish. All lectures are free and open to the public.
Upcoming lectures include:
  • Oct. 18: Art Faculty at BHSU: “Beyond the Classroom”
  • Oct. 25: Kelly Kirk: “Honoring Veterans' Legacies”
  • Nov. 1: Dr. Andrey Reznikov, professor of English: “The role of Bible Translations in Establishing the English Language”
  • Nov. 8: Aaron Bauerly, system librarian: “You are the Hero: Interaction with Mythic Archetypes Through Games”
  • Nov. 15: Du-Lu Hsiao, assistant professor of Spanish: “How to be Spanish”
  • Nov. 29 – Dec. 6:  University Honors Capstone Defenses
  • Jan. 10: Desy Schoenewies, associate professor of art: “Drawings from China: Experiences from the BHSU/Baoding University Partnership BHSU Artists at Baoding University”
  • Jan. 17: Tami Haaland, professor of English at Montana State University Billings: A Poetry Reading
  • Jan. 24: Tracy Hunt and Chelsey Groseclose, counselors: “The Matrix Within: from Insomnia to Lucidity, the Powers of Sleep and Dreaming”
  • Jan. 31: Instructors Altman Studeny, Carrie Gray-Wood, Tim Steckline: “Twisted Fibers: Felt as Art, Technique, and Social Critique”
  • Feb. 7: Dr. David Cremean, professor of English:  “Bruce Springsteen as Storyteller”
  • Feb. 14: Jeffrey Winter, instructor of mathematics: “Secrets and Unconventional Uses of Microsoft Office”
  • Feb. 21: Dr. Holly Downing, professor of biology: “Why Our Mascot is Not a Bee—The Frustrations of a BHSU Entomologist”
  • Feb. 28: Dr. Max Marc, professor of management information systems: “Artificial Intelligence vs. Humans: Thought Experiments on the End-Game”
  • March 14: Dr. Jarrett Moore, assistant professor of research and assessment: “Manufacturing (Real)ity”
  • March 21: Dr. Chris Hahn, assistant professor of music: “We’re All Musicians: Exploring the Brain-Music Relationship”
  • March 28: BHSU Research Symposium Keynote Speaker, Meier Hall
  • April 4: Petrika Peters, sustainability coordinator at BHSU: “Global Dumping: What Happens to Your Electronic Waste?”
  • April 11: Christopher Landauer and Chris Fuchs: "Wizard, Fighter, Rouge RPG Design: Community Building Through Gaming"
  • April 25: Courtney Huse Wika, associate professor of English: “A Spontaneous Overflow of Powerful Feelings: A (Very Brief) Poetry Writing Workshop”
To read short descriptions of each lecture topic, visit
For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, associate professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email

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