Giving a paper

The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery invites anyone with an interest in food and its history to submit a paper for consideration.   The Symposium has a longstanding tradition of quirky openness to all things, including seemingly non-academic topics.   However, to maintain our high standards regarding content and to keep everything manageable, we ask all authors to  conform strictly to the following rules.   We reserve the right to return to refuse proposals as well as papers for technical reasons.

Please send submissions or questions to Mark McWilliams: .


Each year the Symposium addresses a particular topic, chosen three years in advance.  All papers should address the topic in some discernible (although not necessarily literal) way; proposals are often turned down because they are unrelated to the topic or because the connection is unclear.  If you have any doubt about the suitability of a proposed paper topic, please contact the editor for clarification before the deadline.


If you’d like to present a paper at the Symposium, please submit a proposal of 500-1000 words by 20 January of the Symposium year.   Please also include your relevant contact information including your email and mobile phone number.
Note: if you are a student and want to be eligible for a Student Research Grant or a Best Student Presentation Prize you must state that you are a student when you submit your proposal. Please tell us what school you attend and the degree program you are enrolled in. New this year is a prize for the best presentation by a first-time non-student presenter. If you are eligible this award and want to be considered for it then you must identify yourself as a first-time presenter when you submit your proposal.
The proposal should: a) outline your central theme and key points, b) describe the scope of your research, and c) explain why your paper makes an original and compelling contribution to the Symposium’s examination of the topic and to the field of food history.
Owing to the high number of proposals, it is not possible to include everyone’s submission.   The Editorial Committee attempts to ensure that a broad range of subjects within the year’s topic is presented and that a rich spread of geography, culture, and time periods is represented. You will be notified if the paper is accepted by 15 March.
If accepted, we expect the final version of your paper of no more than 5000 words by 30 May.   Because the Symposium itself offers opportunities to rethink assertions and conclusions, authors whose papers are selected for publication will have another chance to revise their papers after the Symposium, before it is published in the Proceedings.

Paper Guidelines

We expect original works (and ask that you sign a Representation and Indemnification form) of no more than 5000 words; there is no minimum length for a Symposium paper.   Quality, substance, scholarship, and originality are more important than length.   Authors should note, however, that footnotes and bibliographies are included in the strict 5000-word limit. Papers must also include a brief abstract; the abstract does not count against the 5000-word limit.
Authors should communicate their ideas in English that is clear, logical to follow, and as engaging as possible.   Non-English speakers may request to give their presentation in a language other than English; however, all papers will be published in English.   In some cases, it may be possible to provide translation help.   Authors should request such assistance prior to the deadline.
The Symposium requests the option to publish papers before they are published elsewhere.   Please keep this in mind before you submit a paper.


While proposal and paper submissions should not include illustrations, many authors do choose to illustrate their presentations at the Symposium with slides and other visual aids. Many formats are possible, but we do expect authors to be familiar with their chosen technical mediums.
Papers chosen for inclusion in the Proceedings can include illustrations.   It is not usually possible to publish colour images in the Proceedings (although they can appear on the website); black-and-white illustrations and diagrams (300 dpi or better in standard image formats) should be submitted electronically with the paper. If it becomes necessary to limit the total number of illustrations that can be published, the editor will contact you.


Authors should follow the Style Guide of the Modern Humanities Research Association, which is available at:
Notes should appear as endnotes following the text.

At the Symposium

Registration for the Symposium is distinct from submitting a paper.   Please submit your registration as requested on the Symposium website and send any questions regarding fees or accommodations to our Registrar, Priscilla White:
There are a number of assisted places, student rates, and grants that applicants should consult when registering.   Paper submissions by the editorial committee are “blind” and not biased by a potential attendee’s ability to pay.   However, although the Editorial Committee will do its best to recommend strong submissions for aid, limited resources prevent it from guaranteeing it.
Because papers are distributed to participants before the Symposium, authors of accepted papers are asked to take 15-20 minutes to speak to rather than to read their submissions. Authors should present material that goes beyond their initial draft, while summarizing these points.
Owing to the multinational and multilingual nature of the Symposium, presentations should be as clear as possible.   If you feel you have to stick to the submitted text, then we expect you to practice before the presentation to adhere to time limits and to make your presentation as lively and engaging as possible.
Following the presentation, authors will also be asked, under the supervision of a session chair, to respond to questions.   The goal is to encourage the lively exchange of ideas.
AV facilities, tastings, and, in some instances, cooking demos can be arranged if requested in advance, although we discourage scripted PowerPoint presentations as they seem to contradict the free spirit of the Symposium.  Please inform the Editor and/or the Registrar of your requests at your earliest convenience so that we can do our best to accommodate you.