Graduate Colloquium Series: Grace Tsai

“Sea Biscuit and Salted Beef: What Sailors Ate Before Canning and Refrigeration”

Tuesday, 14 February 2017, 4-5 p.m.
Location: 311 Glasscock Building

Publicity PhotoGrace Tsai
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Glasscock Graudate Research Fellow, Texas A&M University

Before canning and refrigeration were invented, strict limitations on shipboard provisions to reduce illness from food spoilage were enforced by several European nations. Unfortunately, these preservation methods also decreased the nutritional value of food on lengthy voyages. Grace Tsai’s research looks into the effects of shipboard diet on the health of sailors via the nutritional intake of seamen on 17th-century ships.  However, rather than using traditional methods to determine past health and nutrition, this project involves replicating shipboard food using the exact ingredients and methods of preparation from the 17th century. This data will support or refute historical accounts related to shipboard food and sailors’ experiences on ships, refine our grasp on our shared maritime history, and create new material for further study in the humanities.

The Graduate Colloquium offers graduate students an opportunity to discuss a work-in-progress with faculty and graduate students from different disciplines. By long-standing practice, colloquium presenters provide a draft of their current research, which is made available to members of the Glasscock Center listserv. Each colloquium begins with the presenter’s short (10-15 minute) exposition of the project, after which the floor is open for comments and queries. The format is by design informal, conversational, and interdisciplinary.

The Glasscock Center extends a warm invitation to faculty and students to join in a discussion of Grace Tsai’s work-in-progress. The paper is available to members of the Center’s listserv, or by contacting the Glasscock Center by phone at (979) 845-8328 or by e-mail at

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