Theresa McCulla’s first book, “Consumable City: Food and Race in New Orleans” (under contract with the University of Chicago Press), explores the cultural power of food production and consumption and their associated material culture in New Orleans.

To investigate intersecting histories of leisure and labor in a famously multiethnic city, McCulla consults traditional archives, municipal records, visual culture, cookbooks, menus, travel guides, and souvenirs. The book embraces an interdisciplinary approach to understand the conflicting roles played by tourists, migrants, enslaved and free workers, and writers in creating a setting that presented food and people as conjoined commodities.

The dissertation on which this project is based was a semifinalist for the 2017 Herman E. Krooss Prize for the best dissertation in business history, awarded by the Business History Conference. It received honorable mention for the 2016 Michael Katz Award for the best dissertation in urban history, awarded by the Urban History Association. It was a finalist for the 2016 Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize for the best dissertation in American Studies, awarded by the American Studies Association.

Drawing on the archive of American brewing history that she is building at the Smithsonian, McCulla is writing an article exploring the gendered landscape of beer during the 1970s birth of the American “craft beer revolution.” Using original oral histories, archival sources, and objects of material culture, she probes the reasons for and implications of the specifically masculine identity of American beer at that moment, in the context of the larger sociocultural movements to which it belonged.


image: The Levee – New Orleans, 1884, Library of Congress