Fred Gibbs

Photo: Frederick Gibbs

Associate Professor
Undergraduate Advisor

Office: Mesa Vista Hall 1077
Personal Website


Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison 2009
M.A.University of Wisconsin-Madison 2002
B.A. Carleton College 1998

Research Interests:

Rhetoric of Diet and Health, History of Science and Medicine, Food Studies, Public Digital History, Spatial Humanities, Historiography


Dr. Gibbs investigates the ever-changing rhetoric of diet and health, especially in terms of how science, morality, and cultural values interwine to supposedly objective dietary advice. His current research focuses on the history of discourse concerning natural foods and diets.

His work in digital public history examines how technology shapes our access to and interpretations of the past. How does the digitization of cultural artifacts change the ways historians ask and answer questions about the past? How can emerging technologies cultivate an interest in history and help shape narratives about the past? 

Among digital history methods, Dr. Gibbs is especially interested in representations of space and critical cartography. His research experiments with digital mapping technologies to bring more humanistic and aesthetic approaches to the kinds of digital maps we see everyday.

His first book, Poison, Medicine, and Disease in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Routledge, 2018) explores how premodern physicians debated the distinction between medicine and poison, as well as poison’s role in  shaping understandings about disease and contagion.

Recent/Select Publications:

Poison, Medicine, and Disease in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Routledge, July 2018.

“Teaching and Researching the History of Medicine in the Era of (Big) Data: Reflections,” Medical History, 61.4 (2017), 609-11. [with Jeffrey S. Reznick] PubMed

“Data, Humanities and the History of Medicine: New Pedagogical Approaches,” Medical History, 61.1 (2017), 177-180. PubMed

“Medical Literature on Poison, c. 1300-1600,” in Philip Wexler (ed.), Toxicology in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, 159-166. London: Academic Press, 2017.

A Healthy Dose of Skepticism,” Nursing Clio, May 24, 2017.

“The Poetics of Digital Scholarship,” in Matt Bernico and Manuela Kölke (eds.), Ontic Flows: From Digital Humanities to Posthumanities, 101-122. New York and Dresden: Atropos Press, 2016.

“New Forms of History: Critiquing Data and Its Representations,” The American Historian 7 (2016): 31-36. TAH

“Editorial Sustainability and Open Peer Review at the Programming Historian,” DHCommons 1 (2015). DHCommons

“From Theory to Practice in the Digital Humanities,” in Bildungsgeschichte. International Journal for the Historiography for Education 1-2015, 95-99.