"Food connects different aspects of culture and different cultures. Everyone can appreciate food! My research project allows me to combine my interest in the Icelandic Middle Ages with my newly discovered love for food history", says Bethany Louise Rogers about her doctoral thesis, which she began working on at the Faculty of History and Philosophy in the autumn of 2016.
"The goal of the project is to study the cultural and anthropological importance of dairy products in Scandinavian culture as well as the historical relationship between man and milk in Scandinavian history, with special emphasis on the period 1000-1500", Bethany adds.
She came to Iceland from the United States in 2011 to partake in the Medieval Icelandic Studies programme at UI. One of the courses in the programme sparked her interest in this particular topic. "In 2015, I took a course taught by Andrea Maraschi, called 'Food in the Middle Ages: Facts and Mentalities'. I thought this topic would be a fun change of pace, but definitely did not expect that Andrea would open a whole new world to me! Those parts of history that I always found the least interesting, suddenly became the most fascinating when viewed from the perspective of food", Bethany explains.
She began her doctoral studies in History immediately after graduating with a Master's in Medieval Icelandic Studies, and expects to be able to present her first research results within two to three years. "My hope is that this research will shed new light on the history of food in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and that my study produces new knowledge about the development and importance of dairy products in medieval Scandinavian culture", says Bethany.
She adds that she will consult sources from across Scandinavia to determine the status of dairy products in medieval culture and society. "The study also gives insight into Iceland's history. During the Middle Ages, Icelanders had far fewer options in this regard than other Scandinavian nations due to the country's geographical isolation. This aspect of Icelandic history has not been researched yet."
Supervisor: Sverrir Jakobsson, Professor at the Faculty of History and Philosophy.