nl en

You Are What You Eat: Gender, Class, Ethnicity and Food Culture


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.


Many authors have stated that what and how we eat defines who we are. If the saying ‘you are what you eat’ is true, many of us are in trouble. Food culture differs according to gender (men/women), class, ethnicity, and religion. Food culture is regarded as the marker of ethnic identity, and the cement of social cohesion.
Food culture changed because people moved, as did goods and ideas. Techniques (production, cultivation, transport, cooking) changed, and fashion changed. Authorities tried to influence what people (children, pregnant women, migrants) ate. Firms tried to influence eating habits via advertisements.
In this course students can choose from a multitude of primary sources: novels, newspaper articles, women’s magazines, cookbooks, company archives, municipal archives, government archives, commercials, advertisements, and interviews. Students will study when and why food cultures (in the Netherlands, in the colonies, and elsewhere) changed. They can study this topic for any period between 1500 and now.
The course can (but need not) be taken as part of an international master programme in Europe devoted to food cultures and systems, Social & Cultural Food Studies. Students can however also follow this course without taking the international food master. The international food master offers access to various networks of European scholars, in Bologna, Brussels, Ghent, Leiden and Tours, and beyond these at institutions in Paris, Exeter, Parma, Padova, Valencia, Leuven, Copenhagen, Trondheim, Amsterdam, Munich and Darmstadt.
For more information about the international programme see the page of Social & Cultural Food Studies.

There is no entry test

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1) The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • 2) The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • 3) The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 4) The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 5) The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;

  • 6) The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  • 7) The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  • 8) The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  • 9) The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  • 10) (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

  • 11) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following;

  • in the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence: the manner in which migrations (of people, goods and ideas) between and within states have led to shifts (in cohesion, ethnic composition, policies, imaging, culture, and power relations) in the period 1600-2000, with a focus on (urban) networks (within and across borders);

  • 12) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following:

  • in the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence: the interdisciplinary approach (application of theories and methods from social sciences), the comparative perspective (diachronic and synchronic) and working with a large variety of primary sources;

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar

  • 13) The ability to employ a interdisciplinary approach (application of theories and methods from social sciences);

  • 14) The ability to study migration from a comparative perspective (diachronic and synchronic);

  • 15) The ability to work with a large variety of primary sources;

  • 16) (ResMA only): The ability to interpret a potentially complex corpus of sources; the ability to identify new approaches within existing academic debates.


The timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, s/he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, s/he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course Load

  • Attendance: 18 hours

  • Pparing for class/reading literature: 48 hours

  • Pparing presentations: 16 hours

  • Site visit: 4 hours

  • Conference: 16 hours

  • Carring out research: 90 hours

  • Wrting paper: 88 hours

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

Assessment method


  • Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-9, 12-15 (ResMA also 10 and 16)

  • Oral presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 3-7

  • Participation and assignments
    Measured learning objectives: 11-12, 12-15 (ResMA also 16)


  • Written paper: 70 %

  • Oral presentation: 10 %

  • Assignment 1: 5 %

  • Assignment 2: 10 %

  • Assignment 3: 5 %

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficent.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Blackboard.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Exam review

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of deadlines

Reading list

Students do not need to buy books. A reading lists (of articles that can be downloaded via the library) will be made available via Blackboard


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Marlou Schrover