A new lecture series on history of beer/wine/pubs is starting in London, and the inaugural paper, 18:00 on August 28th, is from Digital Humanities scholar Harvey Quamen explaining why databases, prosopography and digital mapping are useful for the scholar of the history of brewing (an argument that can of course be extended to all modern history, and for that matter ancient). From the original announcement:
Three major questions—all difficult to answer—prompt this talk:
- what caused the sudden demise of porter around 1820?
- how did the style called India Pale Ale spread so rapidly?
- can we locate the historical London breweries?
Although surrounded in some mystery, these questions might be answerable using some techniques from the digital humanities. In particular, building a database of historical recipes will help us understand the movement and growth of beer styles (especially as those styles moved through homebrewing) and we can begin to track master-apprenticeship relationships with the use of propopographies, databases that serve as “collective biographies” of groups of people. Finally, using historical maps (like the Agas map digitized at the Map of Early Modern London project), we might begin to reconstruct the historical distribution of beer around the capital.
The series will focus on archaeology and history, so more future papers may be of more direct interest to the #DigiClass community too.