Northwestern University

Thu 5:30 PM

LNCC speaker series: Chris Otter

When: Thursday, October 17, 2013
5:30 PM - 8:00 PM  

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum Room, University Hall 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public

Contact: Hosanna Grace Krienke  

Group: English Department

Category: Lectures & Meetings

More Info


Reception with Professor Otter at 5:30, Talk will begin at 6:15

"Greedy Titan: Food and Power in Britain, 1780-1920"

This talk argues that this British “nutrition transition” is inseparable from Britain’s urbanization, industrialization and planetary colonization. It explores a series of significant consequences of this nutrition transition, operative at different scales. At a planetary scale, these include the transformation of agrarian ecologies in Argentina, Canada, Denmark and New Zealand, and the accelerated, human-driven evolution of cattle, wheat and sugar. Britain presided over domestic plenty but failed appallingly at managing imperial scarcity, particularly in Ireland and India. At a national scale, this recognizably “British” diet, albeit one with regional peculiarities, provided the calorie flows necessary for the domestic labour force to power the industrial revolution. Since this flow relied upon a global food system, it also catalyzed fears about food security during wartime, which structured British policy in World War One. Finally, while calorific levels rose on the British mainland, late-Victorian and early twentieth-century texts catalogued a seemingly endless litany of dietary pathologies, from constipation, food allergy, diverticulitis and tooth decay to anorexia nervosa and obesity.


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