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e-portfolio of Serin Quinn

Project Overview

Love and Gold: A Comparative History of the Tomato in England and Italy, 1500-1800

I am a second-year doctoral researcher, kindly funded by Midlands4Cities and supervised by Professors Rebecca Earle and Beat Kümin.

My research is on the introduction and assimilation of the tomato and other New World foods into England and Italy in the early modern period. I intend to tackle the prevailing assumption that foods and goods from the Americas were met with fear and rejection in Europe, and demonstrate that their presence and consumption – both physical and economic – was part of a larger culture of demand for the rare and exotic. I also intend to show that the understanding and use of the tomato in Europe was drawn from the knowledge and practices of the Aztecs, as a part of the larger cultural influence of Indigenous American cultures on early modern Europe.

Themes and Interests

My work tackles a number of key themes in the study of food and consumption, namely the reception of novelty and the integration of new cultural items; the global nature of the early modern world; and the transfer and exchange of cultural ideas and knowledge. The history of food and drink is my primary research interest, but others include environmental history, the history of animals in particular, and material culture studies.

Groups and Engagement

I am a co-founder and convenor of the Food and Drink History Reading Group at Warwick, which meets monthly (now online) to discuss various themes and issues in the study of food and drink.
I am also a member of both the Early Modern and Eighteenth Century Centre and the Global History and Culture Centre at Warwick, and have participated as a discussant in the departmental research seminar.

Public engagement

Part of the Coventry City of Culture/Warwick Resonate 'FEAST!' program, helping to organise the Berkswell Feast Food Fair event, as part of which I have spoken about festive drinks and the history of hot chocolate, video available here.

Conferences and Publications

Paper 'Consumption as a Point of Contention: Aphrodisiacs in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Print' at the Dresden-Warwick workshop 'Media and Public (Dis)order', March 2021.

Paper '“The Spanish Potato, he holds as a bauble”: New World Foods and the Early Modern English Body' at Warwick's History PG Conference, May 2021.

Co-organiser of the virtual conference 'You Are What You Eat: Food and Identity from the Middle Ages to the Modern', June 2021.

Guest post on the GHCC Blog, '"The Most Delicate Rootes": Sweet Potatoes and the Consumption of the New World, 1560-1650Link opens in a new window', June 2021.

Paper 'Red and Gold: Tomatoes as Ornamental Plants, 1500-1800' at the Warwick Early Modern History Workshop, November 2021.

Paper "‘The Most Delicate Rootes’: Sweet Potatoes and the English Consumption of the New World, 1560-1650" at the Newberry Multidisciplinary Graduate Conference in Premodern Studies, January 2022.

Academic Profile

2020-2024: PhD, University of Warwick

2019-2020: MA, Early Modern History, University of Warwick (Distinction)

2014-2018: BA (Hons), History and Italian, University of Manchester (First-class)

Awards and Funding

​2020/24 – Midlands4Cities AHRC Doctoral Studentship Award

2019/20 – History Department MA Studentship

– Warwick Taught Masters Scholarship Scheme​

– History MA Best Overall Performance Prize


Seminar tutor for:

Caravans and Traders: Global Connections, 1200-1500 (HI2B8), Autumn 2021 term

Galleons and Galleys: Global Connections 1500-1800 (HI2C1), Spring 2022 term