One of the core goals of Before 'Farm to Table' is to build an interdisciplinary and interstitial community united by an interest in food and the early modern world. To serve that goal we have collaborated with scholars from around the world—and across methodological and disciplinary boundaries—as we explore the many possible directions in which foodways can take us. Our scholarly collaborators and partners are listed below.
Dr. Egloff’s project, entitled By the Numbers: Optimizing Food Production, Preservation, and Nutrition in Early Modern England, examines how early modern British subjects quantified their food to optimize yield and use, all the way from agricultural production to preservation. This work places food within a historical moment typified by the growth of scientific rationality and precision. Dr. Egloff will draw upon Folger holdings including advice manuals, commonplace books, account books, and almanacs.
Rebecca Laroche, Professor of English, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Dr. Laroche’s project, A Recipes Studies Miscellany, applies a wide variety of methodologies to engage with and interpret manuscript recipe books. The Folger holds the largest collection of these books in the English language. The various chapters in Dr. Laroche’s book project use methods such as close readings, digital methods, and comparative studies to examine this diverse and underutilized corpus.
Sara Pennell, Senior Lecturer, University of Greenwich
Dr. Pennell’s project, entitled Hannah Wolley: Cooking, Commerce and Print in Restoration London, is a biography of Hannah Wolley, the first woman in Europe to make a living by writing. Wolley wrote in the genre of household management—books addressed to middling sorts and elites about how to manage their homes and servants. Dr. Pennell is particularly interested in Wolley’s text A Guide to Ladies (1668), which is unique to the Folger collections.
Jennifer Park, Assistant Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Dr. Park’s project is entitled Cultures of Culinary Preservation: Domestic Arts, Foreign Foodways, and Race in Early Modern Britain. Dr. Park asks the question, “Was food preservation a domesticating act?” Through close reading of Folger rare books and manuscripts, including manuscript recipe books, domestic manuals, botanicals, and travel literature, Dr. Park will explore ways in which preservation and decay of foods reflected broader social concerns about the provenance and “otherness” of food-stuffs in a globalizing world.
Sasha Handley, Professor of Early Modern History, University of Manchester
Dr. Handley will be working on a project entitled Posset, Healthcare and Human-Bovine Relations in Early Modern England. In this work Dr. Handley will bring early modern environmental histories into conversation with histories of emotion and histories of medicine. This is the first sustained scholarly treatment of posset, a once widespread milk-based drink that was thought to serve numerous health purposes.
Lauren Shook, Assistant Professor of English, Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Shook’s project, A Place at Shakespeare’s Table, shows how Shakespeare crafted entertainment from very real issues surrounding hunger and food scarcity. By reading Shakespeare’s work alongside items in the Folger’s collection that pertain to food scarcity (proclamations, sermons, and almanacks, among others) this project asks, “How does a scarcity of food become a poetics of scarcity?” Further, it asks if such a poetics obfuscated the lives of those who suffered from dearth.
Distinguished Visiting Scholars
Ken Albala, Professor of History at the University of the Pacific
Dr. Albala is author or editor of 25 books on food including Eating Right in the Renaissance (2002), Food in Early Modern Europe (2003), and Cooking in Europe 1250-1650 (2006). He was co-editor of the journal Food, Culture and Society. He leads the MA in Food Studies program at the University of the Pacific. Albala consulted with the project team on cooking and adapting early modern recipes as research.
Craig Muldrew, Professor of Early Modern Economic and Social History at Queen’s College, University of Cambridge
Dr. Muldrew is celebrated for his investigation of the economic and social role of trust in the development of the market economy in England between 1500-1700. As part of this work, Muldrew has studied the living standards and work of agricultural labourers in the early modern English economy, published as a monograph entitled, Food, Energy and the Industrious Revolution: Work and Material Culture in Agrarian England, 1550–1780 (CUP, 2011). The pairing of food and energy in the title emphasizes the fact that before the widespread harnessing of machine energy based on carbon fuel, almost all labour had to be done by men and animals. Bread and beer were the petrol of the early modern world.
Spring and Fall 2019
Wendy Wall, Avalon Professor of the Humanities, Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, Director of the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, and Professor of English, Northwestern University
Dr. Wall will join the Before ‘Farm to Table’ team as a visiting distinguished scholar in May 2019. Dr. Wall's work focuses on gender across a wide range of venues and subjects: authorship, the early modern stage, and within household and domestic spaces such as kitchens. Dr. Wall’s most recent book Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern Kitchen (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), looks to the genre of recipes in early modern England as a unique means by which women engaged in reading, writing, creating, and thinking about the broader world.
Judith Carney, Professor of Geography at University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Carney joins the Before ‘Farm to Table’ team as a visiting distinguished scholar in fall 2019. Dr. Carney’s work specializes in African food systems and ecologies, particularly the effect and legacy of African botanicals on agricultural production of the Americans. Dr. Carney’s latest book, co-authored with Richard N. Rosomof, In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World (University of California Press, 2011), examines how the everyday food products and traditions that enslaved peoples carried with them were crucial to their survival, as well as how these traditions have had a lasting effect on human diet.
Project Affiliates and Collaborators
Zara Anishanslin, Associate Professor of History and Art History, University of Delaware
Dr. Anishanslin is a scholar of Early American and Atlantic World History, with a focus on eighteenth-century material culture. Dr. Anishanslin joined us on stage at the Folger Theatre to discuss the links between the eighteenth-century consumption of fashion, food, and design. Plant, animal, and mineral products of empire entered London from across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, feeding a desire for exotic goods like silks and chocolate.
Marisa Nicosia, Assistant Professor of English, Penn State Abington
Dr. Nicosia is a scholar of early modern English literature, book history, and food studies. Dr. Nicosia is the lead writer and co-founder of the blog Cooking in the Archives and served as the key collaborator in adapting early modern recipes for modern kitchens as part of the spring 2019 exhibition First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britian to the Americas.
Michael W. Twitty joined us in conversation at the Folger Theatre in February 2019. Twitty is the author of the James Beard award-winning book The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South. For the spring 2019 exhibition First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas, Twitty helped us imagine a recipe for akara that represented and celebrated the culinary traditions of Hercules, a chef who was enslaved by George and Martha Washington.