HIST/FSST/SOC 349: The History and Culture of Food in Italy

Note: Online courses will only run with sufficient enrollments.

What can we learn about Italian culture through an exploration of the history of food in Italy? By examining the radical changes that have occurred in Italian food-ways, the pronounced differences in eating habits of different socio-economic classes, and the important role played by food in shaping Italian national and regional identities, we will uncover various trends in Italian history and society. These trends include the gradual process of political unification, the effects of industrialization, as well as the contemporary rediscovery of “typical” foods as a response to globalizing processes and a way to construct new social identities. The purpose of this course is to use food as a means of exploring the political, social, cultural, environmental, and economic changes that have taken place in Italy through history. By the end of the course, students will have acquired a more sophisticated understanding of food history, an interdisciplinary approach to studying Italian culture and society, and a framework for analyzing important aspects of Italian history.


  • Learn about the Italian history and culture of food through the ages;
  • Work with non-traditional historical texts;
  • To challenge students to examine unfamiliar food cultures with unbiased frameworks, applying an anthropological concept of culture to understand diversity;
  • Integrate theory and practice as it applies to Italian foodways;
  • Develop a more sophisticated understanding of how historical events are shaped by a combination of economic, political, social, and cultural factors.