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English Literature   >   Shakespeare and Food

Food in Shakespeare's Time

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Shakespeare and Food

In this course, Dr Joan Fitzpatrick (Loughborough University) explores the role of food in Shakespeare’s plays, considering how contemporary understandings of food and diet play into the representation of food on Shakespeare’s stage. We begin with a broad overview of ideas around food in Shakespeare’s England, looking at dietaries and common understandings about the relative health of meat, vegetables, fish and ale. In the second module, we look specifically at the role of food in Hamlet, thinking about how food is linked both to sin and to the contemplation of one’s own mortality. Next, we consider the interaction between food, femininity and domesticity in Macbeth. In the fourth module, we analyse how food contributes to Leontes’ jealousy in The Winter’s Tale. Finally, in the fifth, we look at how food plays into the notion of barbarism versus culture, a main theme in The Tempest.

Food in Shakespeare's Time

In this module, we explore popular cultural and scientific understandings about health during the Early Modern period in England, focusing on: (i) the similarities and differences between our beliefs about food today and those held in Early Modern England, (ii) popular ‘dietaries’ on food, such as Thomas Elyot’s Castle of Health (1534), (iii) the importance of the religious notion of gluttony as sin in informing attitudes about food consumption, (iv) how Shakespeare’s plays point to a belief in the health of meat, (v) milk’s association with weakness, and (vi) mummy as a medicine.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Fitzpatrick, J. (2023, April 04). Shakespeare and Food - Food in Shakespeare's Time [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Fitzpatrick, J. "Shakespeare and Food – Food in Shakespeare's Time." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 04 Apr 2023,


Dr Joan Fitzpatrick

Dr Joan Fitzpatrick

Loughborough University