Barbara Rotger


I am Program Coordinator for the MLA in Gastronomy Program at Boston University, and also a recent graduate of the program. In my master's thesis I proposed a methodology for studying personal recipe collections, a primary source that I feel has been largely overlooked by scholars in food studies/gastronomy and related fields. While my proposed methodology addresses the question of how to use these sources, accessing these collections is also an impediment to their use. In pursuing this research, I have struggled with how to make these artifacts, often privately owned, (including my own collection) accessible to scholars.

As for my own background, I have always been interested in food. As an undergraduate at Brown my intent had been to major in Chemistry in order pursue a career in Food Science. However I came to realize that it was the cultural significance of food that was my real interest. (If the field of Food Studies had developed in the mid-1980s I would have found it.) Finding myself drawn to history and culture, I majored in Russian Studies and went on to work at Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute. While working at Harvard I was fortunate to take some of the very first academic food studies courses, which were offered in the (now-defunct) Radcliffe Seminars. These courses lead me to what was a newly-formed program at Boston University, the MLA in Gastronomy.