The University of Southampton

HIST3118 Food, Politics and Hunger

Module Overview

The Great British Bake Off. Celebrity chefs. Tweeting what you ate for breakfast. Food and cooking are as ubiquitous today as they have always been, but like everything else we study at Southampton, they have a longer historical context. This module will introduce you to some of the ways in which historians and other scholars—such as anthropologists and archaeologists—have thought about food. After a brief overview of food studies methods, the module will take a thematic approach. The focus for the course will generally be on British and American readings, though some case studies may be examined in a more international context. Each week will draw on a range of examples from the medieval through to the modern period to explore the position of food in society.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Introduce you to food and cooking as a historical practice • Introduce you to ways in which historians and other disciplines concerned with the past have considered food and cooking • Encourage you to think about food and culture as a means for a wider understanding of social, economic, political and religious history

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe how an analysis of food and cooking adds to or challenges what we know about medieval, early modern, and modern history
  • Assess the arguments of different disciplines in debates about food and its place in society
  • Synthesise the historiographical scholarship on food and cooking
  • Lead your peers in a discussion of readings related to food and cooking
  • Present your work verbally
  • Analyse, using several case studies, how food and cooking have changed over time


Topics may include, but are not limited to: Chronology and Methods for Food Studies Single Foodstuffs Hunger Food Grammar and Feasting The Virtue of Choice Special Collections visit Health and Diet Sugar, Spice, and the Not-So-Nice Contact and Cannibalism Consumerism and Food The Southampton Symposium on Food and Cooking

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods focus on weekly seminars analysing a key theme in the context of several different time periods, as well as a student-led discussion. Meetings will include examination and discussion of primary and secondary source material and the key issues of debate they raise. Learning activities include: • Preparatory reading before each seminar • Participation in group and seminar discussion • Independent reading of the sources provided and of related secondary works • Independent research of additional information and source materials • Leading part of one seminar Seminars will provide you with general knowledge and understanding about chronology, sources and key concepts. This will be consolidated through readings and seminar discussions of primary and secondary source material. Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your own ideas about a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument.

Independent Study240
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

J. L. Flandrin and M. Montanari (eds.) (1999). Food: a culinary history from Antiquity to the present. 

A.J. Frantzen (2014). Food, Eating and Identity in Early Medieval England. 

T Scully (1995). The art of cookery in the Middle Ages. 

Panikos Panayi (2008). Spicing up Britain: The Multi Cultural History of British Food. 

H.E.M. Cool (2006). Eating and drinking in Roman Britain. 

Massimo Montanari (2006). Food is Culture. 

M. LaCombe (2012). Political Gastronomy: Food and Authority in the English Atlantic World. 

M.W. Adamson (2004). Food in medieval times. 

J.C. Drummond and A. Wilbraham (1991). The Englishman’s Food. 

Paul Freedman, Joyce E. Chaplin and Ken Albala (eds.) (2014). Food in Time and Place: the American Historical Association Companion to Food History. 

J. Thirsk (2007). Food in early modern England: phases, fads and fashions 1500-1760. 

Carole Counihan & P.Van Esterik (eds.) (1997). Food and Culture: A Reader. 

S. Mennell (1985). All manners of food: eating and taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the present. 

K. Albala (2002). Eating right in the Renaissanc. 

S Hindle and J. Humphries (2008). Feeding the masses: plenty, want and the distribution of food and drink in historical perspective. Special issue of the Economic History Review, second series. ,61 .

M. Carlin and J.T. Rosenthal (eds.) (1998). Food and eating in medieval Europe. 

J. Floyd & L. Foster (eds.) (2003). The Recipe Reader: Narratives – Contexts – Traditions. 

C.M. Woolgar, D. Serjeantson and T. Waldron (eds.) (2006). Food in medieval England: diet and nutrition. 

P. Freedman (ed.) (2007). Food: the history of taste. 

John Burnett (1989). Plenty and Want: A Social History of Food in England from 1815 to the present day. 

Jack Goody (1982). Cooking, cuisine and class: a study in comparative sociology. 

B.A. Henisch (2009). The medieval cook. 


Assessment Strategy

Feedback Method • Guidance and advice on preparation, completion and presentation of assignments will be available to you in special seminar discussions • You will be encouraged to discuss preparation for your formal assessments with your tutor • You will have the opportunity to seek individual advice on your module progress from your tutor • You will have the opportunity to discuss written feedback on assignments with your tutor


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 45%
Examination  (2 hours) 45%
Presentation 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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