How Food and Drink Shaped European Culture
Plato’s Symposium is a timeless philosophical text, one that also describes a drinking party. Salome performed her dance at a banquet where the head of John the Baptist was presented on a platter. Ancient mosaics, Dutch still lifes, and Venetian depictions of the Last Supper all find food and dining at their center.
Leonard Barkan, a professor of comparative literature at Princeton University, holds that eating and drinking can be seen as aesthetic experiences as well as sensory ones. Drawing on his new book The Hungry Eye, he explores the central role of food and drink in literature, art, philosophy, religion, and statecraft from antiquity to the Renaissance.
To illustrate how culture finds expression in what we eat and drink he reveals why ancient Rome was a paradise of culinary obsessives and explains what it meant for the Israelites to dine on manna. He discusses the surprising relationship between Renaissance perspective and dinner parties, and offers epicurean insights into Rabelais, Shakespeare, Leonardo, and Vermeer as he covers the glorious ways that the dinner table has transfigured Western arts and high culture.
Copies of The Hungry Eye: Eating, Drinking, and European Culture from Rome to the Renaissance (Princeton University Press) are available for purchase.
Book Sale Information
- Purchase your copy of The Hungry Eye: Eating, Drinking, and European Culture from Rome to the Renaissance by Leonard Barkan here.
- Special Note: Politics and Prose is offering a 10% discount to Smithsonian Associates ticket-holders. To claim your discount, enter the code SPECIAL10 (no space between letters and numbers) in the “Coupon discount” section on Politics and Prose’s check-out page.
- If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
- Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
- Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org.
- Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
- View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.