Profile profile for McCullaT

Theresa McCulla


Ph.D., American Studies, Harvard University, 2017

M.A., History, Harvard University, 2012

Culinary Arts Diploma, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, 2010

B.A., Romance Studies, Harvard College, 2004


Research Specialties: 

I am a historian of the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States. My scholarship investigates how Americans have used material and visual culture to define race, ethnicity, and gender, especially in the realm of food and drink.

My 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 an iconic tourist destination. The book shows how the pleasurable sensory experiences generated by the New Orleans's food industry functioned as uniquely powerful tools in presenting food and people as commodities. 

My additional scholarship elaborates on the connections among identity, consumption, and material culture in realms of food and drink. An article published in Gastronomica (Winter 2019) used artifacts and oral histories collected for the Smithsonian to argue for an unexpected link between the strategies and culture of mass manufacturing and the birth of microbrewing at San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company in the 1960s. An article published in Quaderni Storici (April 2016) investigated the spatial effects of the white ethnic revival on African Americans, Italian Americans, and Vietnamese refugees in New Orleans. I am developing another article exploring the male-gendered worlds of homebrewing and computing in the 1970s in the context of larger sociocultural movements, like do-it-yourself culture.

Find my CV here.

Role in Museum: 

As the curator of the American Brewing History Initiative, I collect objects, documents, and oral histories from the talented women and men who make the American brewing industry the most creative in the world.

The Initiative is the first national-scale, scholarly effort to collect the histories of homebrewing and craft beer in the 20th- and 21st-century United States.

Awards, Honors, and Special Recognition: 

Third Place, Best Historical Writing, “Craft Beer’s Unlikely Alchemist,” Awards in Beer Journalism, North American Guild of Beer Writers, 2020

Semifinalist, Kroos Prize, best dissertation in business history, Business History Conference, 2017

Honorable Mention, Katz Award, best dissertation in urban history, Urban History Association, 2016

Finalist, Ralph H. Gabriel Prize, best dissertation in American Studies, American Studies Association, 2016


Smithsonian magazine “Here’s What’s Brewing in the New Smithsonian Beer Collections,” Smithsonian magazine, September 16, 2019
Gastronomica “Craft Beer’s Unlikely Alchemist,” Gastronomica 19, no. 4 (Winter 2019): 79-91.
Hop Culture “Beyond the Girl in the Moon: Brewing History at the Smithsonian,” Hop Culture, July 26, 2018
Washington Post “Five Myths About Beer,” Washington Post, May 26, 2017
“Fava Beans and Báhn Mì: Ethnic Revival and the New New Orleans Gumbo.” Quaderni Storici 51 no. 1 (April 2016): 71-102. Special issue: Food, Migration, and Mobility in Historical Perspective: Nineteenth to Twenty-First Century.