Jennifer J. Davis is Associate Professor of early modern European history and an affiliate member of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She served as a consultant on the TLC program “Who Do You Think You Are?” introducing American rock star Melissa Etheridge to her French-Canadian roots. Awarded the Regents’ Award for Superior Teaching, she is a dedicated and innovative classroom instructor. She regularly teaches courses on early modern and modern European history, including France and Haiti in Revolution, Marie Antoinette, European women’s and gender history, and the European Enlightenments.
Prof. Davis’s research has earned financial support from the University of Oklahoma, the Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the Council for European Studies at Columbia University, the Lilly Library at the University of Indiana, and the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. In 2019, Prof. Davis launched a new research project on transnational republican theater in New Orleans, Haiti, and Cuba, 1783-1820. She is completing a book-length project that dramatically reframes the meaning of libertine behavior in the French Atlantic, 1621-1814. Prof. Davis unites analysis of law codes, police reports, and literature to trace how this category signifying religious deviance in the seventeenth century came to connote sexual deviance and racial transgression by the end of the eighteenth century. Prof. Davis’s previous publications have addressed issues of work, food and cuisine, religious identity, gender, sexuality and the law in eighteenth-century France and the Atlantic world.
In 2013, Prof. Davis published Defining Culinary Authority: The Transformation of Cooking in France, 1650-1830. This book examines police records, merchant accounts, cookbooks and scientific treatises to explore the economic and social forces that shaped culinary labor in a period of rapid economic and political change. One reviewer observed that Prof. Davis’s “book is a triumph of archival research as well as a fresh injection of conceptualization and theory. . . . This is an ambitious book that raises cuisine to the level of art and literature as an important way to understand French society.” (Thomas Brennan, American Historical Review, June 2014) Another reviewer agreed that “in a fascinating narrative covering almost two centuries of French history… Jennifer J. Davis weaves together social and cultural history, highlighting the evolving relationship between culinary labor and culinary artistry.” (Erica Peters, H-France Reviews, Jan. 2014) Prof. Davis continues to direct student research in foodways and culinary history.