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Setting Liberty’s Table

Terre Ryan, Loyola University Maryland, Summer Fellow 2012

My long-term project, Setting Liberty’s Table, examines the twentieth-century’s war garden and victory garden movements and contemporary food security discourse. While in residence at Dumbarton Oaks, I gathered material for my analysis of the White House kitchen garden and began drafting an article that I expect to turn into a book chapter. My work benefited enormously from eight weeks of daily access to the library’s collection of both primary and secondary texts. These resources enabled me to consider the White House kitchen garden as engaging in conversation not only with the twentieth century’s wartime gardening movements, but also with nineteenth-century American landscape aesthetics and the reification, on the landscape, of national narratives. Further, the library’s collection of twentieth-century home and gardening periodicals and wartime pamphlets provided critical information about wartime discourses of food and energy security. These texts demonstrate that many twentieth century Americans were concerned with sustainability and local and international food justice decades before those terms gained their contemporary currency. The material that I continue to gather from these texts will assist me in analyzing evolving discourses about gender and provisioning; socioeconomic class and public health; the role of regional gardens in energy conservation; and regional food production as a national security strategy in an age of terror.