Geoff Egan Memorial Lecture 2018: Playing with your food: public engagement through the material culture of food and dining

Date / time
Date(s) - 17 December
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


The Geoff Egan Memorial Lecture for 2018 will be given by Dr Annie GrayPlaying 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 Gray’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.

The lecture will be preceded by the SPMA’s AGM and a drinks reception. Tickets are FREE but spaces are limited, so please reserve your ticket here:

SPMA AGM 5.30pm, Drinks Reception 6.00pm, Lecture 7.00pm

Voluntary donations to the SPMA’s Community Engagement Award fund are very welcome.

Location: University of Liverpool in London, 33 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1AG