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Title: The historical and cultural landscapes of watercress in England since 1800
Author: Ford, Rebecca
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2014
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Scholarly works on agricultural and food history, on cultural geography and on landscape have long informed and enriched geographical thinking. However few researchers have drawn from these extensive bodies of work in order to investigate the cultural landscapes of food. This thesis aims to address that. It proposes the notion that foods can and do have cultural landscapes; landscapes that exhibit temporal changes which reflect changes occurring in the wider society. It goes on to investigate this notion through an historical case study of one particular food: watercress. Watercress itself has received little attention from geographical researchers. It was in 1997 that the distinguished scholar Joan Thirsk published Alternative Agriculture and revealed the important role that has been played by horticulture and market gardening in the history of English agriculture. However, watercress has still not been the focus of a dedicated study, despite the fact that it has long been both grown and consumed in England, with commercial cultivation of the crop beginning around 1808 in Kent. This thesis suggests that not only can watercress be said to have a cultural landscape, but also that the study of it reveals thickly textured geographies that have previously been hidden. Examination of a wide range of archival, written and pictorial sources reveals the engagements that have taken place between watercress growers and government officials, as well as the inspiration its wider associations have provided to artists and writers. Watercress emerges as a food with a rich cultural hinterland; a potent carrier of fears and desires, diseases and enterprises, dreams and salvation. It crosses the boundaries between the countryside and the city and, by so doing, reveals that those boundaries are less rigid than have traditionally been perceived.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available