Brawls, Bawds and Beer: The Early Modern Alehouse and Tavern

full name / name of organization: 
Emily Sloan-Pace / RSA
contact email: 

The early modern tavern was often conceived of as a place of misrule, a place of violence, prostitution, theft and deceit. This was a space that inspired great social anxiety, as much a result of the inebriating product it served as for the unchecked gossip it facilitated among female patrons. Alewives in particular were figures of great cultural resonance, appearing regularly (and in a negative light) in art and literature. This space and the people who ran it were socially necessary but often viewed with disdain and suspicion, operating in a liminal space even as they provide a vital nutritive function. This proposed panel seeks to investigate the space of the early modern alehouse, tavern and inn, and the ways in which food and drink work were portrayed in the period. Suggested topics include: How do these settings appear in literary, theatrical and artistic depictions? How does the public consumption of food and drink change in this era (such as the shift from ale to beer), and what are the economic and social effects of such changes? What are the anxieties these places provoke, and how are they related to assumptions about gender and gender performance? How do these spaces differ (in both fact and representation) in England versus on the European continent? What is the relationship between church authority and the members/spaces of this profession, and does this relationship change during the era?

Abstracts of 150 words and a CV should be submitted to Emily Sloan-Pace at by June 10th.