17 December 2018
The speaker will be Dr Annie Gray on:
Playing with your food: public engagement through the material culture of food and dining
There are few universal human experiences, and even fewer which are family friendly: birth, death, and (hopefully) sex aren't the easiest topics through which to engage wide audiences. The consumption of food, however, is not only universal, but frequent, ever-changing, and surrounded by satisfyingly complex sets of rules and theories. It's the perfect medium through which to not only engage, but also to explain an almost infinite variety of themes and key messages, which can be site-specific, or very general.
This lecture will draw upon the speaker’s wide experience working as a public historian, specifically within the area of food and dining, to illustrate the still under-recognised potential of food for public engagement with the past. By its very nature, food means material culture - it is, of course, possible to stand in a room and merely talk about eating or cooking - but the actions being described are physical, and the key to real engagement is to involve the public in the materiality of the kitchen. Using case studies from Hampton Court Palace and Audley End House, the only two U.K. historic sites to use professional costumed interpreters on a food-based project, we’ll see how working in period dress, with carefully chosen recipes, and theoretically underpinned interpretive structures, can aid in the public understanding of historic themes as wide-ranging as the Victorian class structure, Tudor gender norms, and the birth of the global economy.
Annie Gray is one of Britain's leading food historians. Her PhD focused on the material culture of British food and dining from c.1750-1900, and she's used this to forge a successful career as a writer, broadcaster and consultant, focusing on interpreting the past through food and foodways. Her first book was a culinary biography of Queen Victoria, and she's working on a biography of Georgina Landemare, Winston Churchill's wartime cook. She set up the award-winning costumed team at Audley End House, and has spent a great deal of time making curry while wearing Georgian stays. She's the resident food historian on BBC Radio 4's The Kitchen Cabinet, and has presented various living history shows for the BBC. She's also proud to be an Hon. Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York.
The lecture will be held in conjunction with our AGM. The AGM will begin at 5.30pm followed by a wine reception at 6pm, and the lecture will commence at 7pm. Tickets are FREE but limited in number and can be booked through Eventbrite. Voluntary donations to our Community Engagement Fund are very welcome.