Dr Susan Flavin

Lecturer in Early Modern History

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Department:School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Social science and humanities

Susan Flavin is a social and economic historian specialising in early modern consumption. She has undertaken extensive research on comparative social life and material culture in 16th-century Britain and Ireland.



A former nurse, Susan completed an MA and PhD at the University of Bristol where she was also engaged on a major ESRC funded project Ireland-Bristol Trade in the Sixteenth Century (2006-9). Following a curatorial role at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, she spent three years at Trinity College Dublin as an Assistant Professor of History (2012-5).

Susan’s research concentrates on the history of trade, consumption and material culture in Early Modern Britain and Ireland. Having previously worked on these themes from a macro-historical perspective, using trade records to analyse trends in consumption habits, she is currently working on the micro-history of consumption, using household accounts to examine patterns of diet and levels of nutrition in sixteenth-century Ireland.

Susan’s research, and her teaching at Anglia Ruskin, are grounded in interdisciplinary approaches to history, engaging with archaeology, art history, sociology and anthropology. She lectures on such topics as the social and cultural history of food and drink, and gender and domesticity in Early Modern Britain.

Research interests

  • Early Modern Consumption and Material Culture
  • Trade and Globalisation
  • Food History/Culture
  • Domestic History
  • Social History of Medicine

Areas of research supervision

Susan is available to supervise postgraduates in Early Modern British and Irish History 1550-1750.


Susan teaches on the modules:

  • Western Civilisation
  • Uniting the Kingdoms: Early Modern Britain, 1484-1715
  • The Making of Modern Britain, 1688-1832
  • Gender and the Family in England, 1550-1750
  • Food, Drink and Society in Early Modern Britain, 1550-1750


PhD Early Modern History, University of Bristol

MA Medieval and Early Modern History, University of Bristol

BA (Hons) University College Dublin

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Society Irish Post Medieval Archaeology
  • Social History Society

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Research grants:

  • Grace Lawless Lee Fund, TCD (2014)
  • Paul Mellon Fund (2013)
  • AHRC: PhD (2009-2011)
  • AHRB: MA (2004)

Selected recent publications

Flavin, S., forthcoming, 2017 ‘Domestic materiality in Ireland, 1550-1730’, in J. Ohlmeyer (ed.),. The Cambridge History of Ireland, Early Modern Ireland, 1550-1730. Volume 2. Cambridge: CUP.

Flavin, S., forthcoming, 2017. ‘Food, drink and society in sixteenth-century Ireland: cultures of consumption’ in Becoming & Belonging in Ireland c.1200-1600. Cork: UCC Press.

Flavin, S., 2014. Consumption and Culture in Sixteenth-Century Ireland, Saffron, Stockings and Silk. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer.

Flavin, S., 2013. ‘The decorative arts: change and development in the sixteenth century’, in S. Smiles (ed.) West Country to World's End: The South West in the Tudor Age. London: Paul Holberton.

Flavin, S., 2011. “Consumption and material culture in sixteenth-century Ireland”, Economic History Review, Vol. 64, Issue 4, pp. 1073-1427.

Flavin, S. and Jones, E.T., (Eds.), 2009. Bristol’s Trade with Ireland and the Continent 1503-1601: the Evidence of the Exchequer Customs Accounts. Dublin, Four Courts Press.

Recent presentations and conferences

‘Food Consumption at Dublin Castle in the Sixteenth Century’, Centre of Historical Research, Mary Immaculate College & University of Limerick, March, 2016 (Invited).

‘The Quality of Diet in Early Modern Ireland’, IPMAG, The Archaeology of Consumption in Ireland, 1550-1950, February, 2016 (Invited).

‘Consuming Elites: Diet and Nutrition in Sixteenth-Century Ireland’, TCD Centre for Early Modern History Seminar Series, February, 2015 (Invited).

‘Commodities and Commerce: The Dynamics of Trade in Sixteenth-Century Munster’, University College Cork Maritime History Conference, November, 2014 (Invited).

‘Mercantile Networks in Sixteenth-Century Britain and Ireland’, Royal Society of Antiquaries Ireland (RSAI), January, 2014 (Invited).

'Participation and Interpretation: Ireland and the Sixteenth-Century World of Goods’, Ó Cléirigh Institute, University College Dublin, November, 2013 (Invited).

‘Food, Drink and Society in Sixteenth-Century Ireland: Cultures of Consumption’, Becoming and Belonging in Ireland C. 1200-1600, A cross-disciplinary conference about identity and cultural practice, Clinton Centre, Enniskillen, October 2013 (Invited).

‘Changing Consumption Patterns in Sixteenth-Century Ireland: Evidence from the Bristol Customs Accounts’, Centre for Irish Programmes, Boston College, Dublin: Irish Historical Society, October, 2012 (Invited).

‘Trade and Commodities in Sixteenth-Century Ireland’, The Archaeology of Mercantile Capitalism Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology Annual Conference, Isle of Man, September, 2011.

'Saffron, Stockings and Spectacles: Irish Participation in the Sixteenth-Century World of Goods', Institute of Historical Research Seminar Series: Economic and Social History of the Pre modern World, 1500-1800, University of London, October, 2011 (Invited).

‘Consumption and Material Culture in the Celtic Sea Region in the Sixteenth Century’, University of Bristol, History Seminar Series, February, 2009 (Invited)

‘The Use and Misuse of ‘Particular’ Customs Accounts and Port Books as a Source for British Maritime History in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries’, International Maritime Economic History Association (IMEHA), June, 2008.

'Irish Material Culture in the Sixteenth Century; the Evidence from the Bristol Customs Accounts' University of Bristol, Conference hosted by the ‘Ireland-Bristol’ Project, September, 2008.

'Irish Material Culture and the Bristol Customs Accounts’ Irish Economic and Social History (IESH), Trinity College Dublin, November, 2007 (Invited).

Media experience

Podcast, ‘Consuming Elites in Sixteenth-Century Ireland (February, 2015).

Newstalk Radio Ireland, Expert Panellist on ‘The history of sugar: sweet or sour?’ (24th September, 2014).

Researched and co-curated West Country to World’s End Exhibition, RAMM Exeter (2011).

BBC News, 17th August 2010 18.30 (Interview on John Guy, founder of first English colony in Canada).