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Unit information: Historical and Cultural 3 in 2015/16

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Unit name Historical and Cultural 3
Unit code GEOG30004
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Glennie
Open unit status Not open

GEOG25160 Images of the Earth



School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

Geographies of food are considered principally through long-run and contemporary shifts in the framing of food practices; through shifting power-relations in food networks; and through debates about conceptualizing food-network powers and interests. Animal geographies are considered as a key component in post-humanist, post-environmentalist enquiry in geography, drawing on the co-construction of human/animal spaces and places, practices of human/animal association, and moral and ethical debates from animal welfare to biosecurity. Examination of traditional and contemporary forms of animal representation will be examined, leading to an assessment of ideas of hybridity, dwelling and co-constitutionism.

The aims of this Unit are to help students develop critical appreciations: 

  • of the historical and contemporary production of foods, food networks, eating patterns, landscapes, images of foods and of consumers;
  • of ways in which diverse (inter-)disciplinary perspectives have been brought to bear in debates on foods and eating in diverse historical geographical contexts;
  • of the importance of substantive, grounded investigation;
  • of contemporary human geographical engagement (including the ontological and epistemological issues raised by that engagement) with non-human animals
  • of the place of that engagement within the development of the discipline.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  • understand the geographically distributed nature of food production and consumption, food cultures, and long-run food networks in relation to ecology/environmental factors and socio-cultural factors in food production, eating patterns and food choices
  • appreciate the situated-ness of contemporaries’ understandings of the physiological and cultural meanings of foods, eating, and hunger in the past and today
  • appreciate and analyse facets of their own eating practices and knowledges, with reference to substantive and conceptual literature on trajectories in food networks.
  • critically appreciate geographical engagements with anthropological and other research on food and eating, including ontological and epistemological issues raised.

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Critical interpretative thinking
  • Evidence-based argument
  • Analytical skills
  • Written communication

These objectives shape both the form and emphases of the course structure, component lectures, and examination questions. They are discussed in the opening lecture, in each block of the course, and through the stress on recent and current debates within each of the specific topics covered (both in lectures and via the course website).

Teaching Information

Lectures account for most class sessions (17 of 20), with two sessions of small group discussion and an introductory briefing (week 1) on the essay project. For the essay project there is also a Q-&-A session (week 4) and an opportunity for a short one-to-one discussion.

Assessment Information

2750-3000 word essay project (50%), set in week 1 for submission in the week 12. Two-hour written exam, answering two essays from five questions (50%).

Reading and References

  1. Spaargaren, G, Oosterveer, P, Loeber, A (2012) Food Practices in Transition: Changing Food Consumption, Retail & Production in an Age of Reflexive Modernity, London, Routledge.
  2. Lang, T. (2010) Crisis? What crisis? The normality of the current food crisis, Journal of Agrarian Change, 10: 87-97.
  3. UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (2013) The State of Food and Agriculture 2013, New York: FAO.
  4. Patel, R. (2007) Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System, London, Portobello Books.
  5. Nutzenadel, A. and Trentmann, F. (2008) Food and Globalization: Consumption, Markets and Politics in the Modern World, Berg, Oxford.
  6. Lang, T., Barling, D. and Caraher, M. (2009) Food Policy: Integrating Health, Environment and Society, Oxford U.P.