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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

10th Wilhelm Levison Memorial Lecture: Sweetness and Bitterness. The Sense of Taste in and around Anglo-Saxon England

5th June 2018, 17:30, Palace Green Library Learning Centre, Professor Alban Gautier, University of Caen Normandie

The lecture will be followed by an optional drinks reception. Book your place here.

The sense of taste did not have a good reputation in the early Middle Ages: it was connected with ideas of gluttony and it was considered one of the grossest of the five senses. This does not mean the Anglo-Saxons did not have a discourse about taste. If we consider it along with that of their Welsh and Frankish neighbours, it appears that a "system of tastes" was polarized by sweetness and bitterness, two flavours with opposite significations and connotations.

Alban Gautier holds a doctorate and agrégation in history. He is currently professor of medieval history at the University of Caen Normandie (France). He published a French translation of Asser's Life of King Alfred (Paris: 2013), along with several books and articles on the history of food, Anglo-Saxon England and Northern Europe in the early Middle Ages, such as Le Festin dans l'Angleterre anglo-saxonne (Rennes: 2006), Alimentations médiévales, Ve-XVIe siècle (Paris: 2009), and most recently Beowulf au paradis. Figures de bons païens dans l'Europe du Nord au haut Moyen Âge (Paris: 2017).

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