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Unit information: Food: a Global History (Level H Lecture Response Unit) in 2015/16

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Unit name Food: a Global History (Level H Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HIST30027
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Rob Skinner
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

We are what we eat. As such, the history of what we eat – and how we eat – touches on the basic fundamentals of the human condition. Food history is a history of everyday life in its essence – but it is also a history of the complex interactions between human biologies, cultures and politics. What we eat today is shaped by histories of science and technology (why does a fridge hum?), imperialism, globalization and economic development. But it is also a story of cultural change and exchange. In this unit, we will explore the global history of food, examining key aspects of a vibrant, complex and rapidly-developing historiography.

Topics covered will include food diffusion after Columbus, cultures and manners of eating, industry and food for mass society, modernity and food production, and twentieth-century food counter-cultures.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed: (1) a wide understanding of some of the major changes in food consumption and production over the last few hundred years; (2) the ability to analyse and generalise about how changes in the way people eat have reflected and shaped wider historical forces; (3) the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments; (4) the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically, and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour interactive lecture per week.

Assessment Information

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Claflin, Kyri, and Peter Scholliers, eds. Writing Food History: a Global Perspective. London: Berg, 2012.

Grew, Raymond, ed. Food in Global History. Boulder: Westview Press, 1999.

Mintz, Sidney Wilfred. Sweetness and Power : the Place of Sugar in Modern History. London: Penguin Books, 1986.

Tannahill, Reay. Food in History. London: Eyre Methuen, 1973.

Walvin, James. Fruits of Empire : Exotic Produce and British Taste, 1660-1800. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997.