Bethan Davies

Research activity per year

Personal profile


Research interests

Early modern drama and performance; material culture; food history; history of intoxicants; history of the body; gender studies. I am the recipient of a Techne doctoral studentship, funded by the AHRC.

My thesis examines the emergent relationship between women and sugar in the early modern period (c.1590-1642), and how this connection is registered in dramatic performance.  Sugar was becoming an increasingly visible product in early modern people’s lives in domestic and commercial spaces as early colonial economies developed abroad. My research uncovers the shifting metaphorical and material dimensions of sugar in textual and performance cultures and consider how they intersect and ratify contemporary cultural constructions of femininity. Using recipe books, domestic manuals, and dietaries alongside surviving material objects such as banqueting trenchers and still lives, I unpack the gendering of sugar in global, national, and domestic spheres. Researching plays by Middleton, Fletcher, Webster, and Shakespeare, I examine women’s close involvement with and symbolic ties to sugar, revealing how they became associated with interconnected ideas around creativity, artifice, sexual desire, class aspiration, racial othering, and global exploitation. This thesis is interdisciplinary, contributing to the work of material culture, food history, gender studies, critical race studies, and performance studies.

In 2022, I was a researcher for the BBC History Podcast 'You're Dead to Me', helping to produce shows on a range of topics, including the seventeenth century French opera singer Julie d'Aubigny, and Georgian love and courtship. I also completed a placement at The National Archives researching the High Court of Admiralty records, and working on various education, outreach and engagement projects.



Shakespeare in London (BA)

Hidden London (BA)

Afterlives: Ancient Gods and Heroes in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (BA)

Writing for Young Readers (MA)

Professional Affiliations

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Twitter: @bethanmdavies1

Revels Office: a virtual network for early modern PhD students and ECRs, founded by Anouska Lester and Sierra Carter.


Education/Academic qualification

English Literature , BA (Hons), University of Bristol

Medieval and Renaissance Literature , MA, University of Cambridge

Postgradute Certificate in Education (PGCE), Secondary English , University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education