Give a paper

The papers presented by our Symposiasts themselves are the heart and soul of the gathering.

The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery invites anyone with an interest in food and its history to submit a paper for consideration. The deadline is February 15 of the Symposium year. 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 or to refuse proposals as well as papers for technical reasons.

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. Browse our past symposiums for examples of papers from previous years.

Please send submissions or questions to Mark McWilliams:

How to submit a paper proposal

If you’d like to present a paper at the Symposium, please submit a proposal of 500-1000 words by 31 January of the Symposium year (extended to February 15 for 2022!). Please also include your relevant contact information including your email and mobile phone number.

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.

The Symposium requests the option to publish papers before they are published elsewhere. Please keep this in mind before you submit a paper.

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.

Successful paper-proposals are chosen by our editorial committee without regard to the proposer’s ability to pay for a place. If this is an issue, please let the Editor know and we’ll do our best to help, though this cannot be guaranteed since our resources are always limited.

Please send submissions or questions to Mark McWilliams:

Please note for 2022:

Just as eating away from the table often means making the best of a tough situation, all this year’s presentations and Q&A sessions will again be virtual, via pre-made videos and Zoom discussions. Presenters who are able to attend the Symposium weekend in person will also be able to present there.

Key deadlines

15 February (for 2022) – Paper proposal

15 March – Confirmation of paper acceptance

30 May – Final paper for distribution to attendees in the draft proceedings

15 June – Videos and visuals for the presentation

Post-symposium – Final paper for publication in the symposium proceedings

Preparing your paper for the symposium

If accepted, we expect the final version of your paper of no more than 5000 words by 30 May. 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. In some cases, it may be possible to provide translation help.

Authors should request such assistance prior to the deadline. Authors should follow the Style Guide of the Modern Humanities Research Association, which is available here.

Notes should appear as endnotes following the text. The Proposal and paper submissions should not include illustrations. Illustrations can be included in your Symposium presentation. 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.


Presenting your paper at the symposium

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. Examples of previous presentations can be found on the Symposium’s YouTube channel.

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.

Many authors 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, and please remember that you will need to supply any visuals accompanying your presentation no later than 15 June.

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.

Preparing your paper for publication

You must submit your final paper for publication following the Symposium to the deadline confirmed by the editor.

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 here.

Notes should appear as endnotes following the text.

Financial Support grants

You may be eligible for our (limited) Financial Support Grants. There are a number of assisted places, student rates, and grants that applicants should consult when registering.

Registering for the symposium

Registration for the Symposium is distinct from submitting a paper. If you would like to present a paper at the Symposium please ensure that you register early. Acceptance of a paper does not automatically ensure a place at the Symposium. Please submit your registration on the booking page and send any questions regarding fees or accommodations to our Registrar, Priscilla White: