Madeline DeDe-Panken Gathering Knowledge: Mycophilia in American Culture at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
Our first talk will look at the history of popular interest in fungi and mushroom clubs. Tracing popular mushroom foraging to the 1880s, DeDe-Panken will discuss an early iteration of American mycophilia which brought a new population of non-professional mushroomers into the field. Like today, they sought a combination of gastronomic, scientific and personal enrichment. She'll argue that the mushroom fad legitimized women’s participation in citizen science by tethering foraging knowledge to elevated, economical cookery and as a public safety necessity to prevent poisoning. Enthusiastic laywomen claimed space and belonging as collectors, writers, illustrators, and club leaders. Yet while expanding opportunities for some, privileged mycologists’ insistence on certain forms of expertise fueled exclusion along class, race and ethnic lines. Ultimately, this research seeks to elucidate tensions surrounding sustenance, science and authority that remain with us to this day.