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"Eating On The Go: Cultures of Consumption and the Railway in Britain, 1880-1948"


Project Description

In the decades surrounding the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Britain’s railways were at their zenith. Size, complexity, and dominance over the travelling market meant that the railway experience touched all levels of society. Yet whilst historians have long maintained that food and eating have been framed by social, economic, and political structures, there has been no detailed investigation of the myriad spaces of dining offered to railway passengers in this period. From high-end first-class restaurant cars through to modern buffet-cars and food grabbed off platform salesmen and women in a hurry, this was a period in which how people ate, what they ate, and how they felt about it was in a state of flux.

This innovative collaborative PhD project pairs the expertise of a historian of nutrition and consumption with the world-class collections of the National Railway Museum (and wider Science Museum Group). The Museum’s collections offer a rich context in which to start research, with both a paper archive and an object store featuring everything from tiny teaspoons and disposable cups through to 1930s buffet-cars and Victorian dining saloons. With the period witnessing so many vital changes in food culture, from new technologies to mass production and the boom of imported foods, the PhD researcher will have ample opportunity to develop their own approach to analysing this exciting material. This PhD is ideally suited to a candidate eager to combine archival research with a hands-on approach to material culture in a major National Museum. The Museum is currently undergoing an exciting process of change, with a £50 million Masterplan reshaping its entire site and the successful applicant will be able to participate first-hand in helping develop and change the narratives the Museum tells.

Funding Notes

Subject to standard AHRC eligibility criteria, the studentship will cover tuition fees at home/EU rate and provide a maintenance award at RCUK rates for a maximum of 3 years of full-time doctoral study from 1st October 2019 with the option of up to 6 months additional funding for related professional development. Further information: View Website

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