Manuscript Recipe Books as Archaeological Objects

Manuscript Recipe Books as Archaeological Objects : Text and Food in the Early Modern World

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During the mid- to late seventeenth century, women in Irish houses from elite backgrounds started to collect recipes, which they recorded in domestic manuscripts. While these manuscripts were made elsewhere at an earlier date, they were an almost entirely new arrival to Ireland in this period, and their sudden proliferation said much about changes taking place in society at large. This book is a detailed study of such manuscripts from the perspective of historical archaeology, which will argue that they are artifacts which clearly demonstrate that a profound series of changes was taking place. The written word penetrated people's daily lives and homes to a degree that it had not in previous periods, and it had a profound influence on how they related to their world, objects, and each other. While this book will address how we can use them as sources for the study of food history and material culture, it is ultimately concerned with the meanings of manuscript recipe books, and specifically, what they say about the individuals and society that made them.
The proliferation of these manuscripts signaled a profound change not just in cuisine, but also in the way people thought about and related to food as a form of material culture. Ultimately, this book will argue that these manuscripts are not simply excellent records which can tell us about "material culture" within the early modern house, but that they are a profoundly important type of artifact in their own right. Undertaking research that situates textual objects such as recipe books at the very core of historical archaeology is critical to understanding some of the most significant changes that took place in the early modern world.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 196 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 408.23g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 20 black & white halftones, 10 charts, 4 tables
  • 0739191918
  • 9780739191910

About Madeline Shanahan

Madeline Shanahan has worked as a consultant historical archaeologist and historian in Dublin, Sydney, and Melbourne. Her research interests and expertise relate to post-medieval Ireland, food history, early modern women, domestic space, and historical archaeology theory.
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Review quote

Shanahan's book is a major work in the historical sociology of culinary culture in general, which food historians across the world will need to study carefully. It is also a significant contribution specifically to the study of the history of food in Ireland, which is only now gaining momentum. Through her comprehensive study of manuscript cookery books, she is able to shed light on the interweaving of 'native' traditions and the influences stemming from Ireland's involvement in the British Empire, which is largely concealed by the predominance of cookery books printed in Britain. -- Stephen Mennell, University College Dublin Full of fascinating information and ideas, Madeline Shanahan has opened up a new research area in Irish historical studies. -- Mary O'Dowd, Queen's University Belfast
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Table of contents

Table of Contents List of Figures Aperitif Introduction Chapter 1: Text and Historical Archaeology Chapter 2: Food and Cookery in Early Modern Ireland Chapter 3: Dining in the Early Modern World Chapter 4: A Short History of Recipe Books Chapter 5: Irish Manuscript Recipe Books: Form, Function and Chronology Chapter 6: Irish Manuscript Recipe Books: Contents Chapter 7: Recipes for Modernity Chapter 8: Texts and Objects in the Early Modern House References Appendix
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