Lancaster University

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AHRC Fellowship Award for Restaurant Research

09/10/2009 09:10:51

Dr Robert Appelbaum
Dr Robert Appelbaum
A Lancaster University Lecturer has been awarded funding to complete a study of writing about restaurants, from guidebooks to novels.

Robert Appelbaum, Senior Lecturer in Renaissance Studies in the Department of English and Creative Writing, has been given an Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Leave Fellowship to complete work on a book Restaurants for the Rest of Us, to be published by Reaktion Books.

Restaurants for the Rest of Us takes a look at writing on restaurants from the austere analyses of sociologists to playful gastronomic reflections by literati like M.F.K. Fisher.

In the course of this study, Dr Appelbaum asks whether restaurants reinforce divisions in society or whether they perform a public function as melting pots of cultural democracy.

Dr Appelbaum said: “When we think about restaurants from personal experience we often think about special occasions of pleasure, excitement, companionship. But why? What role do these sites of consumption play in our lives? And how can we account for that role?

“I don’t think anyone yet has come to terms with this question, or even really asked it.

“Either we take restaurants for granted, and don’t really think about them, or we find ways of dismissing them as merely part and parcel of the general world of modern consumption.

“Or worse still, we romanticise them, we glorify them, we make celebrity chefs into cultural heroes and Michelin stars into totems.

“In this book I am trying to find deeper ways of thinking about this experience of restaurant-going and the social system that structures it. And I am trying to find out how this thinking can be put into writing.”