Food and Culture: Ancient and Modern (CLAM056)

StaffProfessor John Wilkins - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level7
Pre-requisitesThose of entry to the MA programme
Co-requisitesCTHM005, CTHM006
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

To enable students to reflect critically and independently on the relationship between food and cultural practice in both the ancient world and the modern (Britain and other cultures). In particular, the module aims to guide students to strike a balance between detailed knowledge of the primary material (e.g. medical texts and cookery books) and analysis of the conceptual issues raised by the secondary material.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. On completing this module, students will be able to analyse the way that the production, distribution and consumption of food is related to its cultural (including social, religious and philosophical) context
  • 2. They will be able to evaluate critically a range of ways of interpreting that relationship and to formulate their own independent accounts of key features of this relationship

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Ability to collate and analyse widely different types of evidence, much of which is incomplete and ambiguous in its significance; to draw independent inferences about the relationship of myth to its cultural and historical context; to reflect critically on the origins, development and significance of traditional stories in one's own and another culture.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 4. The ability to apply key bibliographical skills, the latest forms of information retrieval, as well as word-processing skills
  • 5. The ability to think autonomously and analytically on the basis of written and visual sources and secondary literature; to construct and defend a sustained argument (both in written form and orally); to work with instructor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way

Syllabus plan

Michaelmas Term: 1 Rites of Passage 2 Learning to Behave 3 Community and Sacrifice 4 Nature vs Culture 5 Religion, Hygiene and Food 6 Food and Archaeology 7 Philosophy 8 Medicine and way of life 9 Vegetarians ancient and modern 10 Contemporary lifestyles

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching2222 x Seminars (1 hour per week)
Guided independent study278Private study

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Two oral presentations 2015 mins1-5Written and verbal
Two Essays804000 word 1-5Written and verbal

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PresentationPresentation1-5Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-5Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

J Wilkins and S Hill 2005 Food in the Ancient World (Oxford: Blackwell)

Counihan C and Van Esterik P 2008 Food and Culture (London: Routledge)

Dalby A 1996 Siren Feasts (London: Routledge)

Dalby A 2003 Food in the Ancient World from A to Z (London: Routledge)

Davidson J 1997 Courtesans and Fishcakes (London: Harper Collins)

Detienne M and Vernant J-P 1989 The Cuisine of Sacrifice (trans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press)

Douglas M 1966 Purity and Danger (London: Routledge)

Elias N 1978 The Civilizing Process (trans. Oxford: Blackwell) Garnsey P 1999 Food and Society in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge: CUP)

Mennell S 1996 All Manners of Food (Chicago: U. of Illinois P)

Powell O 2003 Galen: On the Properties of Foodstuffs (Cambridge: CUP)

Wilkins J 2000 The Boastful Chef: The Discourse of Food in Ancient Greek Comedy (Oxford: OUP)

Wilkins J, Harvey D and Dobson M 1995 Food in Antiquity (Exeter: University of Exeter Press)

Davidson A 1999 The Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford: OUP)

Flandrin J-L and Montanari M 1999 Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present (trans. NY: Columbia UP)

Goody J 1982 Cooking, Cuisine and Class (Cambridge: CUP)

Strong R 2002 Feast: A History of Grand Eating (London: Pimlico)

Wills J 1998 The Food Bible (London: Quadrille)

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date