Food and Fiction

Ref: C2339141

What have we loved to eat, and relished reading, since 1900? We look at Edwardian excess, wartime rations, the Jazz Age, fashions in dieting, the growth of ethnic eating, the celebrity chef, food in science fiction and more! Recipe books, newspaper and magazine articles, diaries, memoirs, poetry and novels all provide fascinating evidence of the food we have loved, and loathed, over more than a century of social change.

Course aim

The aim of this course is to study British social history since 1900 through the literature of food.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Outline major developments in food production and consumption from 1900 to the present day.
  • Give examples of the ways in which writers use food for literary effect, e.g. to create atmosphere, character or humour.
  • (Optional) Share artefacts, family records and/or recipes with the rest of the class and lead discussion on their interest and significance.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • All materials will be provided
  • It may be possible for the tutor to bring period snacks for the class to try, and in addition a recipe booklet will be available from session 1. Any student able to try these out at home will find his or her offerings gratefully received.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • There are many good food histories available. Personal resources - recipe books, handwritten accounts, wartime diaries - are especially valuable to the course and students might like to search for these at home prior to the course.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full Course information sheet

Food and Fiction


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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