Eleanor Barnett

Dr Eleanor Barnett is a cultural historian of food and religion, with a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Her research uses food as a particularly enlightening lens through which to access the lives and values of ordinary people in the past. She is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Scholar at Cardiff University. As @historyeats on Instagram, she shares food history stories, artwork, and recipes to a large international following.

Her first book Leftovers: A History of Food Waste and Preservation is out with Head of Zeus in March 2024. With research spanning from the medieval period to the present day, Eleanor explores how wasting food was understood in the past and how our ancestors sought to prevent it by preserving food and making use of their leftovers in many creative and ingenious ways.

Her other area of expertise is the history of food and religion in the early modern period, especially in the context of the Reformations, when different eating practices and beliefs about food helped forge the division between Protestants and Catholics. This work has been published in leading academic journals: ‘Food and Religious Identities in the Venetian Inquisition, ca. 1560 – ca. 1640’, in Renaissance Quarterly (2021) and ‘Reforming Food and Eating in Protestant England, c. 1560 – c. 1640’, in the Historical Journal (2020). Her current research project Eating Exchanges zooms in on moments of food exchange between people of different faiths across the early modern world in order to better understand cross-cultural encounter and its wider historical implications - including how we understand colonialism, globalisation, lived religious experiences, and co-existence.

Eleanor researches and publishes more widely in the field of food history, having worked with the IHR and the Museum of Youth Culture (London) on a project that looked at the centrality of fast food to emergent youth culture in the late 20th century. She has also published several chapters in the edited collection, Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500-1800 (2019), which accompanied the acclaimed exhibition of the same name at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

She is a regular contributor to public-facing media, writing for BBC History Magazine and English Heritage, for example, interviewing on numerous podcasts, as well as consulting for and appearing on TV and radio shows. Eleanor regularly gives lectures, she co-founded the interdisciplinary research network Cambridge Body and Food Histories Group at the University of Cambridge, and has organised and convened several major international conferences in the field of food history.

You can find Eleanor's full portfolio at her website: eleanorbarnett.com.

Contact Information

Rachel Conway
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Literary, Film, TV, Radio, Foreign Rights
Irene Baldoni
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Speaking & Engagements