Free Folger Friday: Flowers, Fashion, and the 18th c. Dining Room

Understanding Consumption in The Way of the World

Friday, February 09, 2018, 6:00 pm
Folger Theatre
Free, reservations requested

When playwright and poet William Congreve (1670–1729) wrote The Way of the World at the start of the eighteenth century, he set his play in an opulent, glittering London: a city flush with wealth made possible by Britain’s empires overseas.  In this free pre-show lecture, historian Zara Anishanslin will help us to understand the visual and material worlds of Congreve’s original play, describing the links between the eighteenth-century consumption – in many senses! – of fashion, food, and design.  We will learn about the luxury goods that were imported to London from across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and how these plants, animals, and minerals were used to enrich one critical eighteenth-century industry: silk manufacturing.

Listen to an excerpt from the talk:

Professor Zara Anishanslin specializes in Early American and Atlantic World History, with a focus on eighteenth-century material culture. Anishanslin received her PhD in the History of American Civilization at the University of Delaware in 2009, where her dissertation won the prize for Best Dissertation in the Humanities.  In 2011, it also won the University of Pennsylvania’s Zuckerman National Prize in American Studies.

In 2014-15, Anishanslin was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society. In 2009-2010, Anishanslin was the Patrick Henry Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University. Additional fellowships include grants from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, The Huntington Library, the American Antiquarian Society, Center for the Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center, The Library Company, Harvard Atlantic Seminar, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, and the Winterthur Museum.

To learn more about her and her work, visit Zara’s website at

Join us after the lecture for the performance of The Way of the World. Purchase your tickets online or call the Box Office at 202.544.7077.