What can anthropological and folkloristic approaches to food, gender, and medicine tell us about these topics in the Middle Ages beyond the textual evidence itself? Women, Food, and Diet in the Middle Ages: Balancing the Humours uses these approaches to look at the textual traditions of dietary recommendations for women’s health, placed within the context of the larger cultural concerns of gender roles and Church teachings about women. Women are expected to be nurturers, healers, and the primary locus of food provisioning for families, especially women of the lower social classes, typically overlooked in the written record. This work illuminates what we can know about women, food, medicine, and diet in the Middle Ages, and examines how the written medical tradition interacts with folk medicine and other cultural factors in both understanding women’s bodies and their roles as healers and food providers.
Theresa A. Vaughan is Professor of Humanities in the department of Humanities and Philosophy, Director of the Center for the Advancement of the Liberal Arts, and Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Central Oklahoma. She obtained her Ph.D. in Folklore with a double minor in Anthropology from Indiana University. Her work focuses on women’s folklore, foodways, and the Middle Ages. She is co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Women’s Folklore and Folklife with Liz Locke and Pauline Greenhill, and serves on the editorial boards of Digest: A Journal of Foodways and Culture and Journal of Folklore Research.