Food Intolerances: Confession, Consumption, and Control in Early Modern Europe

Food Intolerances: Confession, Consumption, and Control in Early Modern Europe

Sam Kennerley (Munich) & Iryna Klymenko (Munich)
Historisches Kolleg
Findet statt
In Präsenz
Vom - Bis
14.05.2025 - 16.05.2025
Iryna Klymenko, Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit, LMU München

In early modern Europe, a person’s religion might be determined as much from their diet as from their beliefs. Even people with as little in common as the English preacher Henry Smith, the Italian miller Domenico Scandella, and the Polish noble Krzysztof Pilecki could, for example, agree that a Protestant was someone who ate meat on Fridays. Indeed, the importance granted to food and drink in religion during the early modern period was such that we possess an abundance of sources about its role in uniting and keeping apart different groups.

Food Intolerances: Confession, Consumption, and Control in Early Modern Europe

Despite the range and interest of this material, diet has been underappreciated as a privileged point of access into the religious world of the early modern period. That is now beginning to change. Eric Dursteler has for example shown that food was an unavoidable part of daily life that could betray otherwise hidden heresies, and Eleonor Barnett has used references to food and drink in inquisitorial sources in Venice to rebuild the lived experience of the city’s many religious communities. Indeed, outstanding studies exist about the role of diet in the religious history of everywhere from Lisbon to Lithuania. What we are lacking is instead comparisons between these apparently unconnected, yet historically entangled parts of Europe that, as the examples above show, in fact had much in common in the weight that they attributed to food and drink in religion.

The proposed conference aims to provide an occasion for exactly such comparisons. We invite papers that consider consumption and its control in the making or breaking of boundaries between and within the various religious communities of early modern Europe (c.1450-c.1800). Topics might include, but are not limited to:

- Theological, philosophical or literary discussions of the role of food and drink in religious identities
- Religious or secular regulations on food or drink
- Patterns of control
- Exceptions and deviance
- Vigilance and attentiveness toward food and drink
- Food and drink as a means of contact between different religious groups

The conference will take place at the Historiches Kolleg at Munich (Germany) on 14-16 May 2025, and will feature a keynote lecture by Prof. Eric Dursteler. In order to apply, please send a CV and a max. 250-word proposal to & by 1 June 2024.


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