ARMGFC-Food and Culture

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Gundula Müldner


Summary module description:
This module explores how investigations of diet are contributing to wider archaeological research questions.

The module aims to encourage students to critically appraise key debates in the field of nutritional archaeology and to provide them with an advanced understanding of the relationship between archaeological evidence and interpretation.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module, it is expected that the student will be able to:
• demonstrate conceptual understanding of the theoretical framework of nutritional anthropology and the complex connections between human foodways, health, economy and society in the past and present
• compare and critically evaluate archaeological, osteological and biochemical evidence for diet in the past and its interpreations
• critically appraise key academic debates concerning diet and nutrition in the prehistoric and historical periods
• formulate and articulate research questions and present the results of independent research in a well-formulated and structured argument
• demonstrate the ability to present complex information and arguments to an audience through a series of informal and formal seminar presentations

Additional outcomes:
Seminar discussions and presentations will help students apply and enhance their communication skills in different settings. The emphasis on the relationship between archaeological evidence and interpretation encourages critical thinking and deduction. The requirement to search for and locate information independently will provide opportunities to develop their research skills and apply their IT skills. Chairing of seminar discussions will promote initiative and organizational skills.

Outline content:
This module will introduce the theoretical framework of nutritional anthropology and its application to archaeology. We will discuss the methodology, strengths and drawbacks of various approaches to reconstructing past diets, including artefactual, osteological (human and animal bones) and biochemical evidence. In a series of seminars we will become acquainted with and discuss key issues and debates in palaeodietary analysis, including the role of diet in human evolution, the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, feasting and conspicuous consumption, cannibalism, migration and colonisation (Roman Britain), social status and social change (Middle Ages), gender and taboos.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
After an introductory lecture, weekly sessions take the form of guided seminar discussions based on prepared reading, directed and independent research. In the last session we will evaluate personal food diaries referring to the themes discussed throughout the term.

Essential Reading

Gumerman, G. (1997). "Food and Complex Societies". Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 4: 105-139.
Parker Pearson, M. (2003). Food, culture and identity: an introduction and overview. In M. Parker Pearson ed. Food, Culture and Identity in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. BAR International Series 1117. Oxford: Archaeopress: 1-30.

Recommended Reading.

Ashley B, Hollows J, Jones S, and Taylor B. 2004. Food and Cultural Studies. London and New York: Routledge.
Beardsworth, A. & T. Keil (1997). Sociology on the Menu: An invitation to the study of food and society. London & New York: Routledge.
Crowe, I. (2000). The Quest for Food: Its Role in Human Evolution and Migration. Stroud, Gloucs.:
Dietler, M. & B. Hayden, eds. (2001). Feasts: Archaeological and Ethnographic Perspectives on Food, Politics and Power. Washington & London: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Goodmann, A. H., D. L. Dufour & G. H. Pelto, eds. (2000). Nutritional Anthropology: Biocultural Perspectives on Food and Nutrition. Mountain View: Mayfield Publishing Company.
Goody, J. (1982). Cooking, Cuisine and Class. A Study in Comparative Sociology. Cambridge et al.: Cambridge University Press.
Harris, M. (1986). Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture. London, Boston & Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Jones O'Day, S., W. Van Neer & A. Ervynck, eds. (2004). Behaviour Behind Bones. The zooarchaeology of ritual, religion, status and identity. Proceedings of the 9th ICAZ Conference, Durham 2002. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Mennell, S. (1985). All Manners of Food: eating and taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the present. Oxford: Blackwell.
Mintz, S. W. & C. M. Du Bois (2002). "The Anthropology of Food and Eating". Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 99-119.
Miracle, P. & N. Milner, eds. (2002). Consuming passions and patterns of consumption. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
Murcott A, ed. 1998. The Nation's Diet: The Social Science of Food Choice. London & New York: Longman.
Scholliers, P. (2001). Food, Drink and Identity. Oxford: Berg.
Simoons, F. J. (1994). Eat Not This Flesh. Food Avoidances from Prehistory to the Present. (2nd revised and enlarged edition.). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Wiessner, P. & W. Schiefenhövel (1997). Food and the Status Quest: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Providence & Oxford: Berghahn.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 2
Seminars 18
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 90
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
One 3,000 word essay (90%)
Seminar participation and one formal oral presentation (10%)

Formative assessment methods:
All students actively contribute to seminars each week, and, if necessary, are helped by guided questions to better understand their own set reading, encouraging to improve their performance and their strategies of seminar preparation.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
An average of 50% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of coursework on dates set by the Department.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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