Reading List: Of Monsters and Men, Megan Salerno

**Secondary/Theoretical Works (3-5)
1. Baldick, Chris. In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Writing. Oxford: Clarendon, 2001. Print.
2. Carroll, Noël. “Ethnicity, Race, and Monstrosity: The Rhetorics of Horror and Humor.” Engaging the Moving Image, Yale University Press, New Haven; London, 2003, pp. 88–107. JSTOR,
3. Malchow, H. L. “Frankenstein’s Monster and Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain.” Past & Present, no. 139, 1993, pp. 90–130. JSTOR, JSTOR,
4. Lancaster, Ashley Craig. “From Frankenstein’s Monster to Lester Ballard: The Evolving Gothic Monster.” Midwest Quarterly, vol. 49, no. 2, Winter2008, pp. 132-148.
5. Smith, Andrew, and William Hughes, editors. The Victorian Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion. Edinburgh University Press, 2012.

**Academic Journal(s)
1. Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
2. Victorian Literature and Culture

**Key Terms
1. Monstrosity
2. Intersectionality
3. Normativity
4. Grotesque
5. Gothic

**How This List Was Formulated/Questions Framing My Inquiry
In preparing to construct this preliminary reading list, I had to first frame my thoughts around the central questions of “What constitutes a monster?” and “Why have monsters been created within literary works, particularly those of the Victorian era?” Working with both Professor Seiler of Dickinson College and Professor Claire Broome-Saunders of Oxford University, I discerned that it would be in my best interest to not only broaden my selected time period from the Victorian era to the 19th century in order to gain a more holistic view of the concept of monstrosity, but to look at monsters as beings that possess both a displeasing aesthetic, as well as an assumed set of moral characteristics that are largely derived from the monster’s outward appearance. Furthermore, through my discussions with professors and classmates and my engagement in literary research, I also began to gain a better understanding of the ways in which literary monsters of the 19th century existed as more than just vehicles for entertainment – they largely served as figures or symbols of the societal fears of their times. For this reason, I have framed this reading list not only around the way in which monsters were constructed and evolved within the 19th century (see “From Frankenstein’s Monster to Lester Ballad”), but also around the way in which monsters embodied 19th century fears regarding race, ethnicity, religion, and gender.
Because this topic offers me the chance to shed light on the ways in which society and its cultural, aesthetic norms lead to the construction of an “other,” it is also important that my thesis touch on “normativity” and what were considered societal and aesthetic norms within 19th century. By outlining what internal and external characteristics are concerned “normal,” I will be able to better outline why people of the 19th century feared and rejected certain members of society.
Lastly, it is also important to note that much of this reading list originated from my love of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the way in which it engages with the concept of monstrosity in relation to gender (monster and creator are often feminized), religion (societal fear of Godlessness), and the cruelty of society (arguably the monster begins as the kindest being in the novel). By using Frankenstein as a starting point, I have had the ability to digress into the ways in which the themes in Frankenstein are present in other 19th century literary pieces and begin to explore the ways that monsters have been represented on the stage and in film.
In the upcoming weeks, I plan to further develop this reading list by speaking with Professor Menon about the concepts of colonization, resistance, and “the other’ and speaking with Professor Moffat about the overarching Victorian era.

Reading List : What’s Left Out of the Canon but Worked Within the Harlem Renaissance

3-5 Secondary Sources:

  1. Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. Taylor and Francis, 2002.
  2. Ezell, Margaret. Writing Women’s Literary History. Johns Hopkins UP, 1993.
  3. Gates, Henry Louis. “’What’s Love Got to Do with It?’: Critical Theory, Integrity, and the Black Idiom.” New Literary History, vol. 18, no. 2, 1987, pp. 345-62. JSTOR, doi: 2307/468733.
  4. Hyot, Eric. “On Periodization.” On Literary Worlds.” Oxford UP, 2012.





  1. Canon Formation
  2. Category Definition v. Reality of Works
  3. Harlem Renaissance


Explanatory Essay:

For this assignment, I met with Professors Harris and Seiler because they have a lot of experience in the era I am fascinated by at this moment and would like to explore. I am interested in canon formation in general and the authors who do not fit the defined characteristics and subjects that have been accepted as that era’s hallmarks. While this can be applied to any time in literary history, the Harlem Renaissance is uniquely interesting for a few reasons. I am interested not only in canon as formulated by elites of the general literary establishment, but also the elites within nontraditional literary movements. Women played a huge role in the Harlem Renaissance movement through working with periodicals, writing, and bringing other artists together to those gatherings a current audience knows were sources of amazing inspiration and the germ for works we study today. The Harlem Renaissance was recent enough to provide a decent record of these women’s contributions, and I want to know how they were simultaneously accepted in the social scene and excluded from the list of names associated with this time’s work. What were their interactions with their male peers, who sometimes served as colleagues at publications? How did so many women get defined by one scandal, such as Larsen’s possible later-career plagiarism, as justification for not acknowledging their work’s quality? What do authors like Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jessie Redmane Fauset’s works say about other issues and themes than we see in black male narratives that traditionally make up the definition for that movement. I am starting here with some theory about canon formation from newer, black critics and more recursive ones. From there, I anticipate reading some of the movement’s own authors’ writing about the politics of the time along with their fictional work and its breadth of subject matter and emotional exploration. I want to explore the way other authors might change our understanding of the period and who was active within it. The formulation of the canon affects the writing of generations who study it, so what effect might a reformulation have on future writers reading and studying this period today?

Apocalypse And Me: Jonah Adler Thesis Reading List

Secondary Works:


  1. Mythen, Gabe. Ulrich Beck: A Critical Introduction to the Risk Society. LONDON;



  1. Beck, Ulrich. Risk Society: towards a New Modernity. Sage, 2010.


  1. Tate, Andrew. Apocalyptic Fiction. London, UK ; New York, NY,

USA: Bloomsbury Academic, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017., 2017. 21st century genre fiction series.


  1. Szendy, Peter. Apocalypse-Cinema: 2012 and Other Ends of the World. New York : Fordham

University Press, 2015., 2015. College Complete.


  1. Robert Torry, author. “Apocalypse Then: Benefits of the Bomb in Fifties Science Fiction  

Films.” Cinema Journal, no. 1, 1991, p. 7.


Literary Journal:


Cinema Journal published by University of Texas Press on behalf of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies.


Key Words:


  1. “Apocalyptic Fiction / Risk Society”
  2. “Genre”
  3. “Film Studies”


My thesis currently stands as a more general genre study of apocalypse fiction, with possible connections to society and disaster. From the The Broadview Anthology of Short Fiction, Third Edition by Levine, LePan, and Mather, genre is defined as a class or type of literary work with different levels of generality. I intend to create a genre “map”, that is, a comprehensive study of changing ideas in current works of Apocalypse fiction. I want to discover latent links between film, television, and literature in the genre. I focuses currently on one critic, Ulrich Beck, while also on several films and novels. Beck fits my interest in the post disaster or apocalypse genre with his book “Risk Society”, which is also a concept he loosely defines as everyday risks our society takes in the name of progress, such as nuclear science disasters. Risk society sub-genres, as I like to label them, also include natural, epidemic, technological, transportation-related, and conflict-based disasters.. This text is in conversation with Gabe Mythen, which may prove to be a valuable secondary source. In my discussion with Professor Malchic, we discussed films such as “Children of Men” (2006), The Day The Earth Stood Still and “Melancholia” (2011). I was drawn on my own to the short book called Apocalypse Cinema by Peter Szendy, as well as Andrew Tate’s Apocalypse Fiction for their insight into works such as these. I believe it is likely that I will need to find more critics and articles of the genre in literature or film to talk about.


For now I have framed my working thesis on: Why does the apocalypse genre always focus on “irreversible” tragedies? What does apocalypse fiction say about our current state of the zeitgeist? What are some aspects of “risk society” that have not been explored in fiction yet?

Reading List for POW Literature and Trauma Theory

3-5 secondary or theoretical works:

“Cultural Studies: A Critical Introduction” (Simon During)

“International Responses to Traumatic Stress” (Yael Danieli, Nigel S. Rodley, Lars Weisaeth)

“Guantanamo and the Logic of Colonialism: The Deportation of Enemy Indians and Enemy Combatants” (Robert Perez)

“Speak, Trauma: Toward a Revised Understanding of Literary Trauma Theory” (Joshua Pederson”

1 Academic Journal

 Journal of International Relations and Foreign Policy

1-3 Far-reaching Keywords/Key terms

  1. Colonialism
  2. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Trauma Theory
  3. Prisoner of war literature

Description of Reading List

I started this list with a book that covers a very broad topic, and then narrowed those general topics down as I went further into my research. I located these sources by posing two basic questions to myself: “how did colonialism help to shape a culture of conquest, and therefore, a culture of legal imprisonment that carries into the modern day – specifically from WWII and on?” and “how does literature that comes from prisoners of war differ from literature published by peripheral sources who merely report on war?”.

To answer these questions, I started with a book discussing cultural studies as a theoretical lens that would be applicable to the culture of war, both in the past and present, and how cultures develop based upon the way they engage with other cultures across the world. I wanted to use this blanket term as my theoretical lens so that I can accurately understand the way a culture, both in its contemporary and its past sense, can contribute to the development of war, and how other aspects of culture (media, the public sphere, etc.) contribute to the progression and continuation of war.

From there, I decided to focus on colonialism theory in relation to modern day examples of war and imprisonment to better define the effects of colonialism, and the way colonialism can lead to war, imprisonment, and empires. I chose an article that encompasses this idea of colonialism, while also applying it to Guantanamo Bay to give it a more contemporary edge – and one that starts delving further into my interests with prisoner of war literature. I then chose two articles that deal directly with the responses to trauma and stress – specifically that trauma and stress as it is derived from war and unfair imprisonment. One focuses more on the way literature acts as a point of relief from trauma, which will help to lead into some of my primary sources about prisoner of war poetry and inmate literature. The other focuses on how the world views traumatic stress, and how trauma theory (later coined post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD) are accepted or pushed back on in society.



World War 2 discussion with professor sweeney

  • include 3-5 secondary or theoretical works (monographs, collections, articles, or journal special issues/edited collections) you will read on your own this fall;

John Dower, War Without Mercy –this book discusses Propaganda

Frank Capra-The Nazis Strike- World War 2 (Film) and Battle of Britain (Film)

Peter Paret-Persuasive Images

Triumph of the Will (Film) by Leni Riefenstahl

Sigmund Froid, Civilization and its Discontents

  • choose one academic journal of which you will survey the last year’s worth of issues;

One of the academic Journals that I found that will be helpful for my research is Nazi Influence Outside Germany Before and During The Second World War.

  • be informed by 1-3 far-reaching keywords or key terms.
  1. Roosevelt Speeches
  2. Propaganda
  3. Nazi Rallies
  • In addition to the three parts of the list you have above, I want you to write a healthy paragraph describing for your classmates and me how you put together this list and what kinds of questions frame your inquiry. This short accompanying essay should be in the range of 250-500 words.


I had a great discussion with Professor Sweeney about World War 2. Before our discussion I was very fixated on figuring out if Human Nature played an impact in World War 2. I was also curious to think about what John Locke and Thomas Hobbes would have thought about human nature if they were alive to witness this war. After I had my discussion with Professor Sweeney I wanted to focus more of my studying on trying to figure out how emotions played a role in World War 2. Specifically I wanted to focus more on how leaders, Nazi rallies, and propaganda may have had an emotional influence on the way that it impacted the German people. Professor Sweeney recommended that I look more into the Nazi rallies and specifically Nazi propaganda signs to see how the Nazi’s played into the emotional piece of how Germans viewed the Jews daily after seeing these advertisements on a regular basis.  She also discussed with me that leaders such as Hitler and Musselini hated liberal democracy so these two leaders played into the idea that if people emotionally became attached to them as leaders than they could carry out drastic plans as they knew that the people would follow their every move. Professor Sweeney also brought up another great point which was to compare how American Propaganda was different from German Propaganda and if there was any emotional pieces that the United States government or German government did to play into the lives of its people. Some of the questions that I asked her were, “Is there any films that you think I should watch for my research? Were there any other leaders that had a big influence on its people other than Stalin? Do you think that human nature played a part in World War 2?” Overall, after talking with Professor Sweeney I was able to narrow some of my focus down on selecting a few broad topics to choose from and dive more deeply into my research about Nazi Propaganda, Nazi rallies, and leaders.




Updated Reading List: Looking at 19th Century Short Stories Through an Intersectional Lens

(i) Secondary and Theoretical Works

-Brooks, Peter. Reading for the Plot : Design and Intention in Narrative. New York : A.A. Knopf, 1984., 1984.

– Feminist Theory: A Reader, ed. Wendy Kolmar and Frances Bartkowski. Fourth Edition (2013). (Specifically looking at pieces on intersectionality.)

– Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven : Yale University Press, 2000., 2000.

– Killick, Tim. British Short Fiction in the Early Nineteenth Century: The Rise of the Tale. Ashgate, 2008.

– Korte, Barbara. The Short Story in Britain: A Historical Sketch and Anthology. Francke, 2003. (Historical context on the short story.)

– Spillers, Hortense J. Black, White, and in Color : Essays on American Literature and Culture. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2003], 2003.

– Węgrodzka, Jadwiga. Characters in Literary Fictions. Frankfurt am Main ; New York : Peter Lang, 2015., 2015. Mediated fictions: volume 9. (Reading for information on the “ficelle.”

(ii) Primary Works

Anthologies- (Still working through these)

Denisoff, Dennis. The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Short Stories. Broadview, 2004. (still narrowing these)

– Devine, Harriet. Nineteenth-Century Short Stories by Women: A Routledge Anthology. London ; New York : Routledge, 1998., 1998. eBook Academic Collection.

Specific Short Stories-

– “Eveline’s Visitant,” (1862) by Mary Elizabeth Braddon found in The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Short Stories

–  Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn. Cousin Phillis. [Auckland]: The Floating Press, 2010.

– Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. EBL, [Auckland, N.Z.] : Floating Press, c2009., 2009.

– Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn. Lois the Witch: and other tales. 1861. (Contains five short stories)

– “The End of Her Journey” by Lucy Clifford, found in Nineteenth-Century Short Stories by Women: A Routledge Anthology

– “The Spell of the White Elf” by Mary Chavelita Bright (Pseudonym: George Egerton) found in The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Short Stories

– “The Three Damsels” by Mary Diana Dods (Psyeudonym: David Lynsay) found in  Nineteenth-Century Short Stories by Women: A Routledge Anthology

(iii) Journals

Victorians Institute Journal. Norfolk, VA : Old Dominion University

– Victorian Literature and Culture, published by Cambridge University Press

– Victorian Studies, published by Indiana University Press


(iii) Key Words
Intersectionality, 19th-century short stories, transatlantic, mental health (?), colonialism

(iv) My Topic
As of right now, my topic for my English senior thesis is somewhat broad. At first, I planned to look solely at Victorian short stories with an intersectional lens, focusing on supporting characters otherwise known as the “ficelle.” These characters are often described in racial terms within Victorian literature which make them rich and thus allowing me to analyze how the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and class work together within these characters to affect their status and role. Furthermore, certain patterns have been popping up as I began my research. Issues of mental health, especially in terms of the ‘mad’ or ‘hysterical’ woman have been showing up as I begin my studies. I was convinced I wanted to focus only on Victorian short stories, however, after speaking further with Professor Seiler, I am now interested in a transatlantic focus. I might shift my focus to both American and British 19th century short stories, drawing connections between the two. This will open up my research to African American literature as well. Overall, my studies will mainly follow feminist literary analysis, while also considering scholarly work on race, class, and sexuality. Toni Morrison’s “Playing in the Dark” will be a particularly useful text to me as I continue my studies, and even was a recommendation of Professor Seiler’s.

My thesis is driven by numerous questions. What does it mean for me to use an intersectional lens to analyze a text created in a time prior to the coining of this term? How do the characters in 19th century short stories represent an intersectional experience, even if this term did not yet exist? What patterns can I note throughout these stories that are related to identity? How does the form of the short story contribute to feminist policies and ideals? How are the intersections of different identities present within these texts?


Update on Progress:

While my project has not changed much in terms of the ideas I plan to pursue, I have expanded on many of my sources. After having a productive meeting with Professor Kersh, I have found several secondary sources that might provide insight into my topic of women within the 19th-century. I have added two journals that focus on the Victorian period, which I plan to use largely for their historical/cultural context. I have also added a few secondary texts to my reading list, one of which being Peter Brooks’s Reading for the Plot : Design and Intention in Narrative. I plan to use this source to explore the form of the short story and its narration, especially how it can be used to provide a social commentary. I have also added Sandra Gilbert’s and Susan Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination as a means of analyzing the intersections of gender and mental health. Even if I decide not to pursue the avenue of mental health, this text will help me in understanding the position of women within the Nineteenth-Century and the role literature played in this position.

As of right now, my thesis is still broader than I would like it to be. I am currently digging through several different anthologies that contain numerous 19th-century short stories. In doing so, several questions have arisen for me. Do I want to focus on short stories written only by women? Or do I want to use stories written by male authors to incorporate another perspective on the role of 19th-century women? As of right now, I am leaning towards the latter, although this does broaden my pool of primary sources quite a bit. I also want to ensure that I allow space for otherwise ignored female 19th-century voices, as one of the goals of feminist literary analysis is to study texts written by those who are marginalized. I am also concerned about my transatlantic focus being too broad. As it might be gathered by my somewhat disorganized list of primary sources, it has been difficult for me to narrow my sources. This may be a result of my lack of commitment to a specific, narrowed topic. Currently, my primary texts focus on female 19th-century authors, especially within the Victorian period. I have found myself drawn to these stories; however, I am allowing myself room to find more American 19th-century short stories as I continue working on this project.

Despite my lack of full clarity in terms of my primary focus, the trajectory of my thesis remains the same. I am still most interested in looking at 19th-century short stories with a feminist lens; however, I find myself being torn in two directions. One direction involves using an intersectional lens to track how these short stories deal with gender, race, and class, especially against the backdrop of colonialism.  Another direction I may pursue is focusing more on the intersections of gender and sexuality, which may involve a closer look at mental health in these texts. Although I have not yet officially decided on either path, I find myself most interested in a focus on gender and sexuality. My main question right now is: can I find a way to combine these two paths to create a coherent, specific thesis that can go in depth into each theme? I believe that as I continue to dig through my primary texts,  the answer to this question will become evident.

Reading List for Norse Religion, Sagas, and Mythology:


  1. Littleton, C. Scott. “The Comparative Indo-European Mythology of Georges Dumézil”. Journal of the Folklore Institute. Vol 1, No. 3. Dec. 1964, pp.147-166. JSTOR


  1. Baker, Peter S. Introduction to Old English. Wiley-Blackwell: Feb. 2012. Print.


  1. Hill, Thomas D. Sources of Wisdom: Old English and Early Medieval Latin Studies. University of Toronto: 2007.


  1. Byock, Jesse L. Viking Age Iceland. Penguin UK: Feb. 2001. Print


  1. Byock, Jesse L. Feud in the Icelandic Saga. UCLA Press: 1982. Print.


  1. Jakobsson, Armann, and Jakobsson, Sverrir. The Routledge Research Companion to Medieval Icelandic Sagas. Routledge: 2017. Print.



Journal: Vikings and Medieval Scandinavia. Brepols.


Keywords: Translation theory, Vikings, Norse, Saga


In order to study the primary texts that I will use for my thesis, I need to first be able to read them. Since I cannot begin to decipher ancient Icelandic or Old English, I must be working from translations alone. Professor Skalak pointed out that I need to consider translation theory since I cannot close read the original text. Baker’s Intro to Old English will help me with Beowulf, and I’m going to look in the academic journal for help with the original sagas. Then, I want to break down the sagas and find common tropes or story patterns. Jesse Byock is an expert and a great writer, and I’ve read him before. I’m going to study at least two of Byock’s books. Part of the reason I am so interested by the Nordic gods is because they look nothing like the Judeo-Christian-Muslim monotheistic god, or even the gods and goddesses of the other pagan religions. They are immoral and mortal.  They lie, have sex, fight with each other, and die. So, a question I had to frame my research is a more complex version of “what’s the point?” If the gods and goddesses, weren’t created for a didactic purpose, or to show people that believed in them how to live, what purpose did they serve? What real life application came out of the pantheon? What was the nature of mythology, and how did it form? What about the Christianization of the Scandinavian countries? How did the one religion give way into the other, and what was the effect of this transformation on the mythology, folklore, and legend? Depending on what direction my interest takes, I may also want to study shamanism. I will probably also look at the conceptions of masculinity, since it was such a “macho” society. Finally, I am considering re-watching the series Vikings on HBO for a modern-day recreation of the lives of the Vikings. Both myself and my professor of Nordic Mythology last semester found this series to be astonishingly accurate in its portrayal of the religion and shamanism. Sometimes I can tell which primary source the show-makers are getting their information from. I may study some of the film theory that we have been reading recently to apply this to my thesis.

Reading List: Japanese Feminist Lens in The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa

(I) Secondary/ Theoretical Works:

  1. The Columbia Journal of Modern Japanese Literature
  2. Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature
  3. The Woman’s Hand: Gender & Theory in Japanese Women’s Writing
  4. World Literature Today
  5. Eastlit
  6. Electric Literature
  7. The Uncanny, Freud


(II) Academic Journals:

  1. The Journal of Japanese Studies
  2. AATJ Journal: Japanese Language and Literature
  3. Brill’s Journal of World Literature


(III) Key Words:

  1. Gender
  2. Japanese/Literature
  3. Post-colonial
  4. Sexuality
  5. Psyche
  6. Grotesque


(IV) Paragraph:

For this reading list, I put together these sources with the help of Professor Menon. Although she has a similar background to what I’m looking to find, she apologized for not specializing and for not being familiar with East Asian literature. Despite this, we compiled a list of sources that compliment my argument quite well. I wanted to focus my secondary sources on what I am planning on using as my primary source, The Diving Pool, by Yoko Ogawa. A female Japanese author wrote this compilation of three novellas; all three novellas center around three different female protagonists. I plan to attack this through a feminist lens, and how the female body (and bodies in general) is portrayed in this book, and in addition I will attempt to add to the feminist lens by looking at the Japanese female perspective (The Woman’s Hand: Gender & Theory in Japanese Women’s Writing). I also found Yoko Ogawa’s book to have a unique sense of the grotesque attached to it, which is what inspired me to add Feud’s The Uncanny to the list, as well as the key words psyche and grotesque. I believe that not only with the Japanese female perspective compliment this text, but also to recognize the unique ability of Ogawa to portray the female body in both appealing ways and in disturbing ways. It is unclear whether or not she was attempting to bring to light the female body and make a statement about it, but for my research, I believe this would be an interesting way to look at it.

Charlotte Hayden, Reading List

Secondary Works

  1. Counihan, Carole, and Penny Van Esterik, eds. Food and Culture: A Reader. Routledge, 2013. 3rd Print.
  2. David, Elizabeth. Spices, Salts, and Aromatics in the English Kitchen.
  3. Flandrin, Jean-Louis, Massimo Montanari, and Albert Sonnenfeld. Food: A Culinary History. Columbia University Press, 2013. Web.
  4. Grigson, Jane. Food with the Famous.
  5. Parasecoli, Fabio, and Peter Scholliers, gen. eds. A Cultural History of Food. Vol 1-6. Bloomsbury, 2016. Print.

Academic Journal

  1. Food, Culture, & Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research. Published quarterly. Routledge. Run by The Association for the Study of Food and Society.

Keywords and Key Terms

  1. “Food culture/society”
  2. “Food history”
  3. “Gastronomy”


I compiled this list based on: two syllabi provided by my aunt, Professor Alison Anrather at Wagner College, who teaches classes on food history and society; stumbling upon books in the food studies section of the library; typing my keywords into Jumpstart; and a conversation with Prof. Su. Because I am not yet sure what portion of the world or segment of history I want to focus on in my thesis – though I am leaning towards Western Europe and perhaps focusing on nineteenth century English food consumption – I intentionally kept my list over-arching and broad. Food: A Culinary History, Food and Culture: A Reader, and A Cultural History of Food will act as sturdy frameworks to contextualize the gradually narrowing scope of my research. Spices, Salts, and Aromatics in the English Kitchen and Food with the Famous will offer more detailed explorations of English-oriented food research and literary traditions of food writing.

Many questions currently frame my inquiry, some academic (in an effort to gear my food hobby towards a researchable topic), and some originating from pure intellectual curiosity. Why has food become the central focus of societies, and why would I argue that it has? What historical events – wars, famines – or traditions signify that cultures operate around the production of food and the social aspect of eating it? What were the food “norms” in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Early Modern Period, and the past two hundred years, and how do all those varying approaches to or treatments of food illuminate the state of a culture’s economy, commerce, or government? In summary, how does history support the notion that food is a cultural signifier? I realize the scope of history that I am exploring is extremely wide but I am excited to investigate my questions and hopefully emerge with a more detailed, exclusionary (in that it will provide specificity, not a limited perspective) focus for my thesis.