A Date with History: Fashion, Food and Feminism

Friday 14 June, 6.30pm-7.30pm - Saturday 15 Jun 2019, 11:00am – 5:00pm
Venue: Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, York on Friday - Tempest Anderson Hall, Yorkshire Museum, York on Saturday
Free admission
Booking required: 14 June; 15 June

Special invitation to UK students

We are extending a special invitation to UK postgraduate and undergraduate students studying French history and culture to attend the conference, by granting a limited number of travel bursaries (up to £100) to cover costs from within the UK to York on Saturday, 15th June.
For further information, please visit: A Date With History at the York Festival of Ideas: Travel Grants for Students

Please find the reports on the following link: A Date With History - Report

Event details

This year, the theme of the York Festival of Ideas is “A World of Wonders,” and we will explore three themes that are central to French culture and its perception abroad, through the analyses of leading French and UK historians: Fashion, Food and Feminism.


How do the iconic symbols of French and British culture - fashion, food and feminism - define our national identity? The third in our series of A Date with History – our annual Franco-British collaboration with York Festival of Ideas – explores the mythical images of glamour and femininity, and discusses issues linked with gender and cultural history. Discover the many surprising ways in which we enjoy a shared cultural heritage and the transformations taking place today.


Fighting for Women’s Rights in France and the UK (Fri 14 June, 6.30pm-7.30pm)

How has feminism developed on both sides of the Channel? How have historic mobilisations around women’s rights unfolded in France and the United Kingdom, and what bridges can be built between our political and cultural traditions whose universalism is also rooted in varied historical contexts?

Christine Bard of the Université d’Angers and Laura Schwartz of the University of Warwick will discuss the major achievements of the feminist movement and the issues that it faces today. The Franco-British keynote address will be introduced by Catherine Robert, a former Higher Education Attaché at the French Embassy in London, and will be chaired by Alice Béja, Higher Education and Research Attachée at the French Embassy in the UK.

• Christine Bard, Université d’Angers
• Alice Béja, Higher Education and Research Attachée, French Embassy in the UK (Chair)
• Catherine Robert, Associate Professor at Sorbonne Université
• Laura Schwartz, University of Warwick

About the speakers

Christine Bard is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the Université d’Angers and specialises in gender and feminism. Her work encompasses: feminism, including Les filles de Marianne. Histoire des féminismes. 1914-1940 (Fayard, 1995) and Dictionnaire des féministes: France, 18ème-21ème siècle (co-edited with S. Chaperon, PUF, 2017); clothing and gender, including Une histoire politique du pantalon (Le Seuil, 2010); cross-dressing; and anti-feminist discourse with Un siècle d’antiféminisme (Fayard, 1999). Christine also plays a key role in the preservation of feminist historical sources and founded the association Archives du féminisme.

Dr Alice Béja is Higher Education and Research Attachée with the French Embassy in the UK. She is a former student of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon and holds a PhD in American Studies from the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle. She joined the Lille Institute of Political Studies in 2015, and is a researcher in the social sciences research center CERAPS (UMR 8026). Her research focuses on anarchism in the United States, the cultural history of the US-American left and the relationship between politics and literature. She has published John Dos Passos, la littérature et la politique (Honoré Champion, 2015). An editor at the French social sciences journal Esprit between 2011 and 2015, she is now a member of the editorial board.

Catherine Robert is Associate Professor at Sorbonne Université (German Studies). She has a particular interest in German foreign policy, colonial and postcolonial history. From 2013 to 2017 she was Higher Education Attaché at the French Embassy in London and initiated A Date with History. She was the Director of the Institut Français in Bonn from 2008 to 2012.

Laura Schwartz is Associate Professor of Modern British History at the University of Warwick. Her new book Feminism and the Servant Problem: Class and Domestic Labour in the Women’s Suffrage Movement is coming out with Cambridge University Press in the summer. She has published widely on British feminism and radical politics including Infidel Feminism: Secularism, Religion and Women’s Emancipation, England 1830-1914 (Manchester University Press, 2013) and A Serious Endeavour: Gender, Education and Community at St. Hugh’s, 1886-2011 (Profile Books, 2011).

Is Fashion Only French? (Sat 15 June, 11am-12.30pm)

This panel will explore the birth of the notion of “haute couture,” how it was appropriated and circulated by the French in the 19th and early 20th century and became a central tenet of French culture, associated with women’s fashion, comparing it to the narrative of London as the centre of men’s fashion.

• Shahidha Bari, London College of Fashion (Chair)
• Farid Chenoune, Institut Français de la Mode
• Oriolle Cullen, V&A curator
• Caroline Evans, Central St Martins
• Sophie Kurkdjian, CNRS/IHTP
• Jenny Lister, V&A curator

About the speakers

Shahidha Bari is a critic, academic and broadcaster working in the fields of literature, philosophy and visual culture. She studied at Cambridge and teaches art history and cultural theory. She is a Fellow of the Forum for Philosophy at the LSE, and from September, Professor of Fashion Cultures and Histories at the London College of Fashion. She was winner of the Observer Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism (2015) and she writes regularly for the Financial Times, Frieze and the Guardian among others. She features frequently on BBC Radio 4, and presents BBC Radio 3’s flagship Arts and Ideas programme Free Thinking. Her book, Dressed: The Secret Life of Clothes is published by Cape in June 2019.

Farid Chenoune is an independant fashion researcher, an art curator and author. He teaches the history of fashion at the Institut Français de la Mode. His books include Dior: From Christian Dior to Raf Simons, A History of Men’s Fashion, and Beneath It All: A Century of French Lingerie. He is the editor of a number of exhibition catalogues including Carried Away : All about Bags and Yves Saint Laurent - an exhibition which he co-curated.

Caroline Evans is Professor of fashion history and theory at Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts London). Her books include Women and Fashion (1989), Fashion at the Edge (2003), The Mechanical Smile (2013) and Il Tempo della Moda (2019). She has lectured widely at international design schools and universities, and has acted as a museum consultant on several fashion exhibitions. She is currently working in three areas of research: the idea of ‘fashion gesture’; historical fashion film; and pattern-cutting and 20th century design.

In 2013, Dr Sophie Kurkdjian gained her PhD in History on the history of the fashion press at the beginning of the 20th century. Between 2011 and 2014, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris where she worked on the fashion periodicals collections. Since 2012, she has been a Research Fellow at the Institut d’Histoire du temps present (IHTP) at the CNRS in Paris, where she co-directs a Research Seminar on History and Fashion. In 2017, she co-organised the exhibition Mode & Femmes, 14-18 at the Forney Library in Paris. In 2019, this exhibition will be presented in New York at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery. In 2018, she created the French fashion research network, Culture(s) de Mode, in collaboration with the Ministère de la Culture. This network gathers together researchers, curators, archivists, designers and students who are interested in fashion.

Jenny Lister is co-curator of the V&A exhibition Mary Quant (2019-20) and editor of the accompanying book. She was curator of the exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon (2010) and co-curator with Christopher Breward of 60s Fashion (2006). She has contributed to the publications May Morris Arts and Crafts Designer (2017) and London Society Fashion 1905-25: the wardrobe of Heather Firbank (2015) while working on many displays of the permanent fashion and textiles collection at the V&A.

What’s cooking in the history of food? (Sat 15 June, 1.30pm-3pm)

Cooking and food have now become an integral part of culture, both in France and the UK, yet the two countries are often opposed in their culinary traditions and the importance they give to food and nutrition. How have the French historically constructed their relationship to food and the idea of “gastronomie”? How can the idea of “national” culinary traditions be recast, in the light for instance of the history of Empires and colonization? And what historical role have women played – and play today – in a male-dominated field?

• Frances Atkins, Michelin-starred chef
• Loïc Bienassis, Institut Européen d’histoire et des cultures de l’alimentation
• Christopher Kissane, Food historian (Chair)
• Joshua Overington, Chef at the Le Cochon Aveugle
• Diane Purkiss, University of Oxford

About the speakers

Frances Atkins is one of very few female Michelin Starred Chefs in the UK. She was first awarded this prestigious accolade in 2003 and a Michelin star has been awarded to her every consecutive year since. Brought up in Ilkley, Frances attended Bradford School of Food Technology and after graduation she worked in Denmark and Scotland. For the past 21 years Frances has established an international reputation for fine food and exceptional hospitality with her trusted team at The Yorke Arms in the Yorkshire Dales. She is a member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and a fellow of the Master Chefs of Great Britain.

Loïc Bienassis is a researcher at the Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation at the University of Tours, France. He is a historian and a food writer whose research focuses on the appearance of regional cuisine in France (19th-20th centuries) and on the advent of the notion of culinary heritage. He is also interested in foodways in Early-Modern Europe. He took part in the inventory of French food heritage and was involved in the inscription of the French Gastronomic Meal on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage.

Dr Christopher Kissane is a historian of food, writer and reviewer, and a Visiting Fellow in Economic History at the LSE. His book, Food, Religion, & Communities in Early Modern Europe (Bloomsbury, 2018), spans the Spanish Inquisition, the Reformation, and the persecution of witchcraft, and explores the place and importance of food in early modern history. Christopher was a co-author and chief analyst for the Royal Historical Society’s recent reports on race and gender in UK History. He is a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker and his writing appears in the Guardian, the FT, Tortoise, and elsewhere.

Joshua Overington is chef at the Le Cochon Aveugle, a small stripped back restaurant in the heart of York. The contemporary European menu is rooted in classical French techniques, and showcases the very best produce available to the kitchen on each individual day. His early career saw him working in some of the best kitchens in the country, including three Michelin starred The Waterside Inn in Bray and the one Michelin starred The Pipe and Glass in Yorkshire. Wanting to hone his skills he then trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris where he developed a love for French cuisine.

Diane Purkiss is Professor of English literature at the University of Oxford, and a fellow and tutor at Keble College. Her book English food: a People’s history will be published by William Collins. She has also published widely on witches, fairies, and the English Civil War.

Love and Sex Across the Channel (Sat 15 June, 3.30pm-5pm)

Recent events like the #MeToo movement have recast the way many people think about relationships, love, and sex, and brought to the fore the structural misogyny that still underpins Western societies. This panel seeks to explore how feminist history, gender studies and studies of sexuality have, in the past few decades, worked at deconstructing gender stereotypes and giving a voice to those who had been marginalized or obscured, also enlightening us on the misunderstandings that still sometimes persists in feminist traditions and visions of sex on both sides of the Channel.

• Laura Beers, American University, Washington (Chair)
• Sylvie Chaperon, Université Toulouse 2/Framespa
• Vanessa Jérome, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
• Zoe Strimpel, University of Sussex

About the speakers

Laura Beers is Associate Professor of British History at American University in Washington, DC. She is the author, most recently, of Red Ellen: the Life of Ellen Wilkinson, Socialist, Feminist, Internationalist (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Sylvie Chaperon is Professor of Contemporary History of Gender at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès. She is a specialist in the history of women and gender, feminism and sexuality, Simone de Beauvoir and the origins of sexology. Her books include Les années Beauvoir in 2000.

Dr Vanessa Jérome is a political scientist, Associate Researcher at the CESSP/Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne University. Her research, based on biographical approach and ethnographic inquiry, is focused on green political activism and sexual violence in political parties. She is the author of the PhD thesis Militants de l’autrement. Sociologie politique de l’engagement et des carrières militantes chez Les Verts – EELV (2014) (Doing politics in ‘Other Ways’. Political Sociology of French Greens activists). She has already published Briser le silence sur les violences sexistes et sexuelles dans les partis politiques, (Break the silence on the sexist and sexual violence in the political parties) in Esther Benbassa (dir.), Violences sexistes et sexuelles en politique, CNRS editions, 2018, p. 27-32.

Dr Zoe Strimpel is a historian of gender and relationships in modern Britain and a flagship columnist for the Sunday Telegraph. She is the author of two indispensable books about dating and gender, and a forthcoming academic book about the matchmaking industry and the rise of singleness in late 20th century Britain (Bloomsbury 2020). An avid pundit, she very much enjoys her frequent appearances on radio and TV to discuss the mysteries and riddles of modern dating and gender.

Kaye Wellings is Professor of Sexual and Reproductive Health Research in the Faculty of Public Health and Policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). She is a pioneering figure in public health social science, and founded the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal). Brought up in York, she studied Social Science at London University and worked in health policy research at the Family Planning Association, the Health Education Authority and St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London. She moved to LSHTM in 1993 where she led a programme of sexual health research including a cross-national comparison of AIDS campaigns; the first global study of sexual behaviour, based on analysis of data from 59 countries; and a programme of research to evaluate England’s teenage pregnancy strategy. She has been awarded honorary fellowships of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Faculty of Public Health, and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.


Friday: Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate, York YO1 9XD
Saturday: Tempest Anderson Hall, Yorkshire Museum, York YO1 7FR

Wheelchair accessible



Published on 02/08/2019

top of the page