The early modern world witnessed a boom in the production of manuscript recipe books, texts which provide records of nourishment, experimentation, education, relationships, and so much more. These books of culinary, medical, and household recipes were compiled and used by varied groups of people: male and female, noble and middling, religious and lay, unschooled and intellectual. Contemporary recipe books reflected this diversity not only in their texts, but also their physical features and continual use and adaptation over time.
While recent study of the recipes within manuscript cookery books has been robust, the materiality of the books and the culinary instructions found within more comprehensive recipe books can provide a further window into the genre. For example, localised traditions in book production and domestic record-keeping shaped the physical forms and structures of manuscript cookery books. Stains, folds, marginalia, items pressed between pages, and pasted-in additions reveal the many uses of these books. The inclusion of new ingredients and integrations of foreign recipes point to the ways in which people, food, ideas, and books travelled the globe.
Through the publication of an edited volume provisionally titled Materiality and Use of Early Modern Manuscript Recipe Books, we wish to encourage the comparative study of manuscript cookery books produced across the entirety of Europe, its colonies, and trading partners during the early modern period (approximately 1500 to 1800). We are particularly interested in examining two central questions in this comparative light:
1. What do the physical forms and various uses of manuscript cookery books look like across Europe and its colonies?
2. Who compiled manuscript cookery books and why?
We are searching for contributions to a volume that will bring together new research aimed at contextualizing the manuscript recipe book in a broader European framework. It will shape our understanding of the place of the manuscript cookery book in the history of manuscript culture, the circumstances and purposes for which these volumes were produced, and the features of the genre itself. We aim to connect scholars from an array of disciplines such as, but not limited to, book history, material culture studies, literature, linguistics, the history of science, and the history of medicine.
Chapter proposals may address one or more of the following topics of exploration:
- manuscript recipe books as objects in the public and the private sphere
- authorship and ownership
- lack of ownership and/or usage markers
- ‘travelling’ recipe texts
- inclusion of illustrations
- texts outside the culinary/medical sphere
- usage of manuscript recipe books in the world of work
- gender and the manuscript recipe book
- commissioned recipe books
- regional genre differences and crossregional influences
Interested contributors should submit an abstract of 250 words by 30 September 2021 to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals should include a tentative title as well as the author’s name, pronouns, affiliation, email address, and a brief bio. We will provide notification of acceptance by 1 November 2021. Full chapters (between 7000 and 9000 words) will be expected by 2 May 2022. Selected contributions will be compiled in a volume edited by Sarah Peters Kernan and Helga Müllneritsch, to be published in English by a reputable international publisher.