Cultures of Consumption in Early Modern Europe

In early modern society, diet offered nutrition; expressed national, regional and class identity; and was used to maintain and restore health. Between 1500 and 1700 cultures of consumption and attitudes to diet were in transition due to changing medical attitudes, new commercial empires and an increasingly wide range of available comestibles (notably sugar, tomatoes, tobacco, potatoes). The influx, adoption and new accessibility of these products had profound and lasting impact on how Europeans consumed and they thought about consumption, use and dependency. At the same time, ideas about diet – informed by Galenic principles of classical medicine – were popularised, adapted and affected by new knowledge, which often originated in Italy, where many European physicians trained.
This network interrogates the temporal, geographic and social dimensions of cultural translation: the transmission, interpretation and transformation of texts, ideas, beliefs and practices between geographical locations, cultural contexts and historical moments, from the ancient world to the Renaissance; between England, Iberia, Italy and the ‘new worlds’; and amongst diverse social groups. The network will examine the role of intermediaries who performed the work of cultural translation (merchants, writers, professional and amateur practitioners), and the vehicles (texts, artefacts, rituals) through which they did so. It fulfils the AHRC’s intention of promoting opportunities for researchers to work across language areas, disciplines and national boundaries, and also aligns with strategic aims of the ‘Science in Culture’ theme, through its connection with the health humanities

Academic Lead – Prof Cathy Shrank – University of Sheffield

Studentship research area title : Cultural encounters from the
ambassador’s court to the English kitchen: Anglo-Iberian networks and the exchange of medical and culinary knowledge

Principal Supervisor – Dr Helen Smith  – University of York

Co Supervisor – Dr Iona McCleery – University of Leeds


Studentship research area title Diet, health, and identity in early modern England and Italy: A comparative study of the application and understanding of Galenic principles

Principal Supervisor – Dr Alexandra Bamji – University of Leeds

Co Supervisor – Prof Cathy Shrank – Sheffield

Studentship research area title: The invention of addiction in early modern England

Principal Supervisor – Prof Phil Withington – University of Sheffield

Co Supervisor – Dr Tania Demetriou  – University of York