Robyn Spears to Conclude Spring Graduate Student Speaker Series

Robyn Spears
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Robyn Spears

Join the University Libraries and graduate student Robyn Spears Thursday, April 4 at 4 p.m. in the Special Collections Reading Room as she presents "Arkansas Aprons: Women's Diaries and Food in the 19th Century."

"Within weeks of arriving to the U of A as a graduate student, I descended the Mullins Library stairs to enter the treasure trove found in Special Collections," Spears said. "My hope was that it would provide original, primary sources to guide me on my way to completing my master's thesis. The discovery of Nannie Stillwell Jackson's nineteenth-century food diary sparked a hunt across the state that would uncover several more fascinating food diaries written by resourceful nineteenth-century Arkansas women."

Rather than focusing on food culture or recipes, Spears' talk is centered on "food power," which she defines as the capacity or ability a woman gains to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events as she participates in exchanging food. 

"I aim to describe how late-nineteenth-century Arkansas women, in particular, had the ability to control their circumstances, even when resources were scarce, largely due to food power," Spears said. 

In her research, Spears used the Nannie Jackson Stillwell Diary (MC 460), and Unbroken Circle, a transcribed oral history. 

The University Libraries and the Graduate School and International Education launched the Graduate Student Speaker Series last semester. Graduate students interested in being part of the speaker series are encouraged to contact Lori Birrell, head of Special Collections, at or 479-575-8443.


Lori Birrell, head, Special Collections
University Libraries

Kelsey Lovewell Lippard, public relations coordinator
University Libraries


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