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ENGL 4980: From Plate to Page

Library Studio

Visit the Studio to learn about services to help you improve your multimedia projects and effectively use technology and tools.

Researching and Communicating Foodways

Choose your adventure

Given the open-ended nature of this project, you will need to start by considering the approach you want to take.

  • Do you want to write a scholarly essay or piece of literary criticism on food writing?
  • Do you want to produce a creative piece on food?
  • Do you want to create something incorporating primary sources, such as a cookbook or oral history?

Pre-searching your project

In any case, you will likely need to do some background research (or pre-searching) to identify relevant source material. Questions you might consider:

  • Are there representative types of writing you have encountered in the class and/or syllabus that you would like to explore further?
    • You might use the library's Quick Search to look up that item and see what descriptive language could help you find related pieces.
    • Try some strategic web searches to see what genre the piece fits into, and if you can find recommended reading.
    • Try looking up the author in an online bookstore or Goodreads to find other related authors/works.
  • Do you need to find background information on an area of interest?
    • Before digging into the scholarship, you might benefit from consulting reference works, Wikipedia, or general overviews found in the library's Quick Search (Oxford's Very Short Introduction series can sometimes be incredibly helpful). 
    • Check your syllabus for required and recommended sources that cover your topic.
  • Do you need representative creative writing, podcast, or other multimedia examples for inspiration?
    • Again, check your syllabus for required and recommended sources that resemble your idea.
    • Try searching the web for: best food podcasts of 2020, or: best travel food writing, or: best food youtube channels
    • Search within your favorite podcast, video, or social media apps or platforms for representative content.


Foodways are approached from a variety of disciplines, so below you will find a few representative databases based on your subject of interest. See our Research Guides for a more complete list by subject area.

Interdisciplinary/Multi-Subject Databases





Identifying relevant primary sources can be challenging, but the most important thing to consider is: What people, organizations, or media outlets would care about your topic? Who would be collecting, curating, and making available the kinds of materials of interest? From there, some strategic web searching is likely your best way forward.

Searching for primary sources online

Archives, special collections, museums, and other institutions are increasingly digitizing their materials and making them freely available online. The most commonly used phrases on sites such as these are 'digital collections', 'primary sources', and 'papers'. A simple search in something like DuckDuckGo or Google for keywords related to your topic and one of those phrases will often lead you to websites with digitized primary sources.

Identifying relevant repositories

Primary sources are not always easily discoverable by search engines, so you might have to think about what institution or organization would have stored and preserved the sources. Questions you might consider:

Following leads from secondary sources

If you have already found secondary sources on your topic, it can be helpful to see what primary sources the author used in their own research. There are a few different places where you will find this information:

  • The footnotes/endnotes throughout the text. Note: You might find abbreviations for sources in the middle of a text, so you will have to find the first reference to the source in an earlier footnote/endnote.
  • The beginning of the bibliography. Note: In scholarly history books, there will often be a section on primary sources separate from the secondary sources. In some cases, you will find a brief essay or note on sources.
  • The acknowledgements section. Note: Scholars often make note of the archivists, librarians, or institutions that assisted them in their research. This can be a great way of determining institutions that have collection strengths relevant to your topic.

About the Studio

The Studio is located on the 3rd floor of the UTC Library. Just look for the big glass box in the middle of the floor. The Studio more or less specializes in 3 things: stuff, space, and staff. Here's a short overview.

This guide will direct you toward resources that will help you turn your research into all kinds of creative projects.

Getting Help from the Studio

Don't worry if you're not feeling very creative or if you're overwhelmed by all the options for digital media projects. The Studio has six full time faculty and staff members who can help you with any project, from coming up with an idea to executing it. Here are ways that you can get in touch with us:

Digital Media Projects

When it comes to digital media projects, the world is your oyster. The Studio can help you with all kinds of projects. Here are some guides and tools to help you get started.

General Information


If you're thinking about creating a podcast or other audio project, these guides and tools will help you from planning to production. To make a podcast, you'll need a place to record, equipment to record with, and software to edit your recordings. 

Graphic Design

You can get really creative with graphic design and really explore the stories and histories behind food. You can use Canva to edit photos and create designs for both print and digital media, and best of all you don't need to be a graphic designer to use it.

Web Portfolios

Web portfolios are a great way to share your content with the world. Google Sites and WordPress both work really well for a web portfolios. You can use a Google Site or WordPress blog as a food blog or to share other types of digital content (like the designs you made using Canva).

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