Usha Vishnuvajjala presented the 2015 Fair Unknown Award to Jennifer Bartlett on behalf of the selection committee. The citation read:
“Jennifer Bartlett’s 2015 Kalamazoo paper, titled Arthur’s Dinner: Or, Robert Thornton Goes Shopping, reads the Alliterative Morte Darthur‘s early feast scene for what it can tell us about the material world depicted in the text and the material world of the scribe Robert Thornton. Bartlett demonstrates that the seemingly exotic foodstuffs at Arthur’s feast would have been quite available to Thornton in fifteenth-century York, and that familiar, quotidian objects like herbs and spices were regularly imported from so-called “exotic” locations.
The resulting article, published in Arthuriana, 26.1, argues convincingly for rethinking Thornton’s view of the “Oryent.” Just as Arthur imports foreign foodstuffs and domesticates them. Bartlett argues, he must draw on resources from outside Britain to sustain his seeming peerless status in the Alliterative Morte. Not only does the article re-orient the Alliterative Morte‘s relationship to the east, it also gives us a fascinating look at the details of the really weird food served at Arthur’s feast.
Jennifer received her PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of York in 2015.