Announcing 2022-2023 Dissertation Fellows

Holly Gruntner
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History
College of William & Mary

Fertile Ground: Kitchen Gardens and Knowledge Production in Early America

"Fertile Ground: Kitchen Gardens and Knowledge Production in Early America" uses kitchen gardens to explore ordinary people’s horticultural knowledge from 1680 through 1830. It focuses on mid-Atlantic and northeastern British North America (and later, the United States), from Virginia to Maine. It centralizes people who were lower class, enslaved, or indentured. To understand their intellectual lives and how they put their knowledge to work, this dissertation pulls together a constellation of experiences, tasks, and knowledges of gardens and gardening. “Fertile Ground” argues that ordinary people’s horticultural knowledge was socially made and exchanged in a variety of contexts, through collaboration and conflict within households; buying and selling transactions that took place in stores, nurseries, and markets; and reading and annotating printed almanacs. Early American botanists, naturalists, and other professional scientists and scientific circles also relied heavily upon ordinary people's expertise and networks as they composed horticultural canons, treatises, and publications.


Margaret Maurer
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Everyday Alchemy

"Everyday Alchemy," explores the intersections of alchemy and the everyday in early modern (1550-1700) England. By examining recipe knowledge in manuscript and print texts, this dissertation explores how women and people of all social classes engaged in alchemical experimentation through domestic and craft practices, including textual production and modification. This project centralizes material text by identifying and examining evidence of textual construction and use, including readers' marks and annotations.