Sensory Studies

Food Without Borders


Christy Shields (Communication, Media, and Culture), Beth Grannis (filmmaker and co-founder of Filmmakers without Borders), Madeleine Shorts films and website 


Proust’s madeleine is an expression commonly used in France to refer to a food tied to powerful memories that reconnect us to another time and place. Such foods can be unique to each individual, and significant to a group as well. They are usually tied to a deep sense of belonging and mutual care, and thus help to maintain a sense of self. They can also travel across borders and be shared with others, thus acting as an invitation to discover our world and worldview. In this project, filmmaker Beth Grannis and food anthropologist Christy Shields use Proust’s madeleine as a vector for the co-creation and sharing of “madeleine shorts”, or short ethnographic films about one individual’s madeleine. These digital storytelling projects are built using participatory and collaborative pedagogies in multicultural secondary school and university classroom settings. Grannis and Shields bring the tools of filmmaking and ethnography into the service of these classroom communities, imparting not only filming, digital media, observation and interviewing skills, but also to encourage self-reflection and dialogical conversation aimed at exploring apparent differences and discovering shared experiences, values and goals. Madeline Shorts Website