Wednesday, March 01, 2006


March Madness- two talks on meat, crisis, and mad cow disease in American culture

The Davis Humanities Institute's Critical Studies in Food and Culture (CSFC) research cluster presents...

March Madness- two talks on meat, crisis, and mad cow disease in American culture.

Friday, March 3rd at
12 Noon in 228 Voorhies.
University California, Davis

"'Business-As-Usual': Mad Cow Disease As Cultural Crisis"

Lynn Houston
Assistant Professor of English
California State University, Chico

This presentation takes up Heidegger’s questions about the nature and "event" of technology, theorizing the role of technology in our everyday lives, in the formation of our beings, and most importantly, theorizing how technology functions in the construction (or destruction) of our subjectivity through the production of our food. To this aim, the phenomenon of mad cow disease is read as a cultural crisis that reveals and makes unfamiliar to us values and norms that we have come to taken for granted, thus calling into question the body as site of discourse. This crisis critiques values regarding the subject/object distinction, as well as other categories/boundaries/borders, the material conditions of personhood, and the production and circulation of knowledge in global, industrial capitalism.

Lynn Houston is currently a tenure-track assistant professor of American literature in the English Department of California State University, Chico. Prior to that, she held a visiting assistant professorship in southeastern Louisiana. Lynn received her doctoral degree from Arizona State University; her dissertation was entitled "The Mad Cow Nexus: The Stakes/Steaks of Personhood in Global, Industrial Food Production." She first began her work in food studies during her masters work at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, while funded by a Fulbright grant for independent research in comparative literature.


"It's a mad mad mad mad world: Mad Cow and Meat Systems"

Laura Hudson
Cultural Studies Graduate Group, University of California, Davis

Ten years ago, the U.S. "mad cow" crisis reached a head with the appearance of former cattle rancher turned vegan activist Howard Lyman on the Oprah Winfrey show. Lyman’s account of common meat industry practices, including the use of cattle proteins in cattle feed, led Oprah to exclaim: “It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger!” The National Cattleman's Beef Association sued both Lyman and Winfrey for their statements. Fear that meat production practices might result in a public health crisis was secondary to fear over the economic effects that public distrust would have on the industry. While mad cow disease has largely faded from the public eye, superseded by the explosion of other crises, the industry continues to employ production methods that put public health at risk in the interests of industry profit. What an investigation of industry and government response to the threat of mad cow disease reveals is that it is not the cows that have gone mad, but the system itself.

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Please join us for these two interesting presentations.
For more information: please contact CFSC coordinator, Stacy Jameson at

Critical Studies in Food and Culture (CSFC) is a research cluster sponsored by the Davis Humanities Institute and the American Studies Department at the University of California, Davis. It aims to support and share the work of Faculty and Graduate Student researchers investigating the intersections of food and cultural studies, as well as the critical analysis of eating practices and the broader cultures of consumption. Please visit our temporary web site at

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