Eleanor Barnett is a cultural historian of food, with a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Her research uses food as a particularly engaging and enlightening lens through which to access the lives and values of ordinary people in the past.
To date, her research has explored the role of eating in the construction of religious identities, especially in the context of the Reformations, when different eating practices and beliefs surrounding eating helped forge the division between Protestants and Catholics. This work has been published in two academic articles in leading scholarly 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).
Eleanor researches more widely in the field of food history, having most recently 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. Her current research considers food leftovers, waste, and sustainability from a broad historical perspective.
As @historyeats on Instagram, Eleanor shares food history stories, artworks, and recipes to a large international community of followers. Her online work has been featured in several media outlets in numerous countries, including the Mail Online, the Atlantic, Eater London, Haaretz Newspaper in Israel, as well as Mexican, Vietnamese, Romanian, and Hungarian publications. At the University of Cambridge, she co-founded the interdisciplinary research network Cambridge Body and Food Histories Group, and ran three major international conferences in the field of food history. She currently co-convenes the IHR’s Food History seminar.