Studio 13: B(read)

Dr Harriet McKay

Focussing on two of life’s key ingredients, reading and bread, this Dissertation Studio offers sessions that will encourage you to experience and experiment with both. As you learn to make a basic loaf of bread, experiment with other doughs and produce a bread-based meal, so will your knowledge around how to craft a dissertation develop, expand and be improved. Designed to be rolled out remotely and/or in class, sessions are structured to complement your dissertation-making journey. 

What you will need to take this studio:

  • Texts – supplied by Harriet
  • Access to MS Teams and weblearn
  • Strong bread flour
  • A mixing bowl
  • Fast-acting dried yeast sachets
  • Salt
  • Access to an oven
  • Olive oil
  • Clingfilm
  • for week six, only eggs, butter and sugar

Recipe and method

Week 1 – Introduction and what to expect

Part 1: Making a sourdough starter.

Part 2: Dissertation starters; what are your initial dissertation ideas and how can you encourage them to ferment.

Week 2 – The basics

Part 1: Basic dough – Basic bread. Preparing to write dissertation check list (eg. Writing reminders, Harvard reminders, research sources). Part 2: Fougasse – decorative basic bread. Adding style to your dissertation

  • Rubel, W, (2011), Bread: A Global History, The Edible Series
  • Snapes, R, et al,  (2018), Bread and Butter: History, Culture, Recipes, Quadril Publishing Ltd

Week 3 – World Bread Day

Part 1: Discussion of Week 2 readings. Bread surgery – Discussion of bread baking and results from Week 2. Writing surgery – reviewing past essays and assessing areas for improvement.

Part 2: Watch Great British Bake Off, Bread Week. Critique and discuss. Does this TV programme offer anything useful or is it and example of what commentator Edward Murrow described in 1957 when he said that television "is the real opiate of the people"? What was the original dea that Murrow is paraphrasing here? 

Week 4 – (B)read theory: pizza, pitta, paratha

Global flow and food diasporas. How will including theory aid your dissertation? PowerPoint recipes and video demonstration/s.

Week 5 – (B)read history: bunny chow

Part 1: What is bunny chow? Understanding history as a tool for investigation and dissertation detective work. PowerPoint bunny chow recipe and video demonstration.

Part 2: Video call and bread class with Jade de Waal, Masterchef and South Africa finalist and owner of Cape Town restaurant and food jamming venue Soute.

  • Trapido, A, (2008), Hunger for Freedom. The Story of Food in the Life of Nelson Mandela, Jacana Media
  • Dubow, S,  (2014),  Apartheid 1948- 1994, Oxford Histories
  • The World Since 1945, Apartheid in South Africa, 05:00 18/09/2008, BBC2 England, 60 mins

Week 6 – (B)read literature: challah

Making an enriched bread. Literature as learning – making an enriched dissertation. PowerPoint challah recipe and video demonstration   

Week 7 – Tutorials and online bread swap videos

Studio image: Harriet McKay. Banner: Hans Op de Beeck, Staging Silence (3), video still (detail), 2019

B(read) – dough, baking and bread as recipe and metaphor for making a dissertation


Tutor Harriet McKay

Dissertation Studios 2020–21