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SOSCI Seminar Japanese Food


Admission requirements

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Food and drink are core aspects of private and public life in Japan, and they serve as potent national symbols. This course will explore contemporary Japanese cuisine from a historical perspective, paying particular attention to the political forces that shaped its content and the way it is perceived in Japan and abroad. The course will examine a broad spectrum of topics, from rice agriculture and home cooking to the use of cuisine in nation branding.

Course objectives

The main objective of this course is to nurture students’ understanding of the impact of historical forces on daily life in contemporary Japan. In addition, the course will introduce students to the key concepts in the historical study of food. Finally, the course is intended to help students in developing academic skills, in particular oral presentation and writing academic papers.


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Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method

Participation element (including group presentation and other assignments): 35%
Paper proposal (midterm): 15%
Analytical element (paper 2000 words) 50%

The final mark will be determined as the weighted average of all the elements.

Two deadlines will be provided for the paper submission. Feedback for the paper will be provided only to those students who will submit by the first deadline. Students who do not submit paper proposals will have an opportunity to submit a book review assignment (to be determined by the instructor). Participation element does not offer a resit opportunity

Students will have an opportunity to make an appointment with the instructor to discuss the graded paper.

Reading list

The primary reading of this course is Branding Japanese food: from Meibutsu to Washoku by Cwiertka with Yasuhara (University of Hawaii Press 2020).

Additional reading material will be made available through a digital teacher’s shelf.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Contact information: Prof.dr. K.J. Cwiertka


Not applicable