First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine
Course unit
AVP7077920, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2019/20

Information on the course unit
Degree course First cycle degree in
IF0365, Degree course structure A.Y. 2017/18, A.Y. 2019/20
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 7.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination STUDY OF CULTURE AND SYMBOLS FOOD
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural Resources, Animals and the Environment
E-Learning website
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge PAOLO SCARPI

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Educational activities in elective or integrative disciplines M-STO/06 History of Religions 7.0

Course unit organization
Period Second semester
Year 1st Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Practice 1.0 8 17.0 No turn
Lecture 6.0 48 102.0 No turn

Start of activities 02/03/2020
End of activities 12/06/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2017 course timetable

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
3 Commissione a.a. 2019/20 01/12/2019 30/11/2020 SCARPI PAOLO (Presidente)
ZAGO MICHELA (Membro Effettivo)
2 Commissione a.a. 2018/19 26/02/2018 30/11/2019 SCARPI PAOLO (Presidente)
ZAGO MICHELA (Membro Effettivo)

Prerequisites: There are no entry requirements
Target skills and knowledge: Students will learn the methods for decoding the symbolic, hence cultural, systems underlying the production, preparation and sharing of food. The motivation is the fact that food is no longer just a means of satisfying a primary need but is a channel for identifying different cultures and civilisations, social classes and ways of organising time, society and work.
As the discussion of food from a cultural perspective draws on both historical anthropological and cultural historical criteria, the methodology will embrace historical anthropological models. While comparisons will be made with non-western customs, including brief comparative references to Jewish, Islamic and Hindu traditions, the principles of histoire croisée, although useful, will not be adopted, as students will not be expected to be familiar with them.
Specific objectives: the course aims to provide the student with the ability to:
1. recognise the different cultural and historical backgrounds underlying the choice, preparation and consumption of food in present and past societies;
2. carry out analyses and synthesise information in order to be able to decipher the mechanisms relating to the function and formation of symbols;
3. use these analytical techniques to recognise and produce interpretative grids for use in investigating eating behaviours and in carrying out market research, as well for training personnel in the sector of the food industry dealing with multicultural communities

At the end of the course, therefore, students will be able to:
- understand the historical and symbolic problems associated with diverse food choices
- understand and apply the techniques for deciphering symbolic structures
- apply the analytical models presented in the course
- draw up interpretative grids
Students will develop the following transversal skills:
- the ability to conduct historical and anthropological analyses
- the ability to use the symbolic analysis of food products to decipher the sometimes hidden mechanisms of persuasion used in marketing, and also to understand the ways cultural and family traditions condition the consumption and selection of food.
Examination methods: To be defined
Assessment criteria: Students are assessed on their ability to present and discuss ideas, to effectively carry out analyses and synthesise information, and on the breadth of information they are able to produce.
In particular, students are expected to exhibit
1. clear knowledge of the contents of the lectures and reference texts
2. clarity of expression and the ability to draw together the various course contents
3. correct use of theoretical references and specific terminology.
4. The assessment may also take into account any coursework the student may have produced.
5. Such coursework will be in the form of a PPT presentation that will be considered part of the oral exam, which is worth one third of the overall mark.
6. The duration of the exam is not stipulated as this will depend on each student’s level of knowledge, nor is the number of questions stipulated, although there will generally be no more than 3 or 4, given that students are given the option (hence the freedom and responsibility) of undertaking coursework, which will constitute 1/3 of the exam.
Course unit contents: The course covers the following:
1) study of the relationship between nature and culture through the production of food and eating choices
2) the historical cultural and mythological tradition of the Mediterranean triad and more generally of the many Mediterranean food traditions
3) the functional classification of foods as cultural, social and temporal markers;
symbolism in the relationship between food product and consumption
4) the complexity of the relationships between food and society and those communication difficulties resulting in eating disorders
5) the symbolic and ideological characteristics of being vegetarian
6) specific food choices in certain some religious contexts
7) symbolic strategies in marketing
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Lectures with illustrative materials
Additional notes about suggested reading: Study materials consist in reading and analysing printed matter that can be purchased or obtained online.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)