Dr. Sydney Watts
Associate Professor of History and WGSS
Coordinator, First-Year Seminars
Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Advisory Board Member
My current research is on the history of Lent in early modern French cities. This study examines Lenten practices and beliefs and how they changed with the development of the Enlightenment self. I focus on the quotidian negotiation of the laws and customs of Lent, in light of metaphysical questions of how the temporal meets the spiritual, to illuminate the complex relationship between food, the body, and belief. The convergence of both scientific and holy circles brings into focus one of the central problems in the history of religious life: how piety and self-discipline changed with the rise of secular ideas and scientific discoveries about nutrition and digestion. This project compares the regulation and disciplining of Christian life across several centuries, among various social groups, in a number of urban contexts.
Meat Matters: Butchers, Politics and Market Culture in Eighteenth-Century Paris. (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, (July 2006).
"Meat for the Multitudes: Market Culture in Paris, New York City, and Mexico City over the "Long" Nineteenth Century," American Historical Review, 109:4 (October 2004): 1055-1083.
"Boucherie et hygiène à Paris au XVIIIe siècle," Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, 51:3 (juillet-septembre 2004): 79-103.
"Food History and the Annales School." The Oxford Handbook of Food History. Oxford University Press, September 2012.
“Enlightened Fasting: Religious conviction, scientific inquiry, and medical knowledge in early modern France” in Food & Faith in Christian Culture. Edited by Ken Albala and Trudy Eden (Columbia University Press, 2011).