About jennifermunroe

Jennifer Munroe is Associate Professor of English at UNC Charlotte and author of Gender and the Garden in Early Modern English Literature (Ashgate, 2008) and editor of Making Gardens of Their Own: Gardening Manuals for Women, 1500-1750 (Ashgate, 2007). Most recently, she co-edited (with Rebecca Laroche) Ecofeminist Approaches to Early Modernity (Palgrave, 2011). Munroe is currently working on a monograph, an ecofeminist literary history of science about the relationship between women, nature, and writing in the context of seventeenth-century scientific discourse. For fun, she gardens, hikes, and takes her dogs to run on land she and her husband own outside of town.

Readers of Early Modern Recipes

by Kristina Duemmler, UNC Charlotte

I have always been fascinated with reading. Many people believe that reading is a static activity that does not reveal important information about readers; but reading practices are everywhere, and they reveal a lot about readers. This is especially true when looking at Early Modern recipes. 

I recently graduated with my B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and will be a student in the M.A. Program in English there in the fall. I am a member of the English honors program. As part of the program, I am expected to conduct research and produce a thesis. When thinking about topics for my research, my mind immediately turned to readers.

I looked for an area of study that had little research on readers, and that is when I encountered Early Modern recipes for the first time. As I scanned through these wonderful works that held so much history, I couldn’t help but notice the many instances of marks that hinted at the activities readers participated in.

I immediately went online to look for scholars that had already looked at readers of recipe books. I was sure that there would be a lot of research that I could study, but I was mistaken. There was little research done on the practices of Early Modern recipe book readers. Thus, my thesis idea was born.

I spent the rest of the semester hunched over Kristine Kowalchuk’s Preserving on Paper, specifically her transcribed version of Mary Granville’s Receipt Book. I also spent a large amount of time analyzing images from the original Receipt Book (Oh, what I would have given to be able to go to the Folger’s Library and look at the text in person).

Through these months of analysis, two things occurred. One, I found clear areas where readers engaged with the text in meaningful ways, and these meaningful interactions told me a lot about the readers during the 17th and 18th centuries. Two, and almost as important as the first, I developed a deep respect for receipt books and for the transcription and preservation of these texts.

Now, after my long-winded explanation, I will share the fun and fascinating things I found within Mary Granville’s Receipt Book.

Stains

The stains that occurred within the Granville project were the first things I noticed when looking at the manuscript. These beautiful little mistakes can tell a lot about the reader and about the text itself.

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Pages 18 and 25

The stain that is pictured above appears on page 18. The spot is directly on top of the writing. Since the stain appears on top of the writing, I speculate that the stain occurred after the writing of this recipe. Thus, it might have occurred during the reading of the recipe and might have been caused by the reader.

If my assumptions are correct, that would place the recipe book within the confines of the kitchen. It would also suggest that this was not a text that was read leisurely. Instead, this text was used and practiced. The recipes were read and then acted out.

Annotations

Annotations are another part of recipe books that interested me. Annotations can tell us a lot about the readers intentions. I could say a lot about annotations, but I am short on words. So instead I will focus on corrections made to the text.

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Page 165.

The recipe for making spanish pap has been edited. The original recipe called for two yolks of eggs; however, the two has been written over with a four. This annotation occurs in a different hand from the author, so I am guessing that it was the reader who made the correction.

If it was in fact the reader making this correction, then it shows us that the reader used this recipe and made improvements to the recipe to suit her needs. This is important because it shows that the readers were active readers that individualized the text.

As Elaine Leong argues in her article, Collecting Knowledge for the Family: Recipes, Gender and Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern English Household, readers of receipt books had “a desire to personalize and adapt these collections to one’s own requirements” (Leong).

Manicules

Last, but certainly not least, I looked at manicules. Manicules are fascinating and, once again, show the practices that readers participated in.

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Page 102.

Once again, here is a moment where the reader is interacting with the text. This manicule is pointing out a particular recipe of interest. The reader could be marking the recipe to show that it was tried and successful, or the reader could be marking the recipe so that he or she could quickly find the recipe again in the future.

One interesting note about the manicule is the unique and individualized nature of them. While manicules share some basic features, like a pointing finger, their appearance is extremely distinctive. Distinct manicules were a way for the reader to make the text meaningful and their own. Readers created manicules, not only to point to important passages, but to also share in the making of texts. They wanted to create a text that was specific to their needs. The readers created a text that was individual and unique.

If my findings are correct, then it suggests that the readers of recipe books were active readers that engaged with the manuscripts in meaningful ways. Readers also individualized the text to suit their specific needs. 

After conducting my research, I was pleased with my findings and with the time I spent analyzing the Granville receipt book. I look forward to future research I may conduct involving recipe books.

Resources:

Leong, Elaine. Collecting Knowledge for the Family: Recipes, Gender and Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern English Household. Centaurus, 2013

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Pages 18 and 25

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Page 165.

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Page 102.

Happy New Year from the Steering Committee

When the Steering Committee last met face-to-face in November 2016, we set the goal of having ten recipe collections completely transcribed, vetted, and entered into the Folger’s DROMIO database by the end of 2017. Today there are seventeen collections thus finished. And so, we start this new year’s message with a huge pat on the back for all of you who helped make this incredible volume of transcriptions possible.

Following tradition, we begin 2018 with a resolution for ourselves as Steering Committee members that we hope you all will take up with us. With the generous help of a grant from the Pine Tree Foundation, the Folger Shakespeare Library has been able to devote concerted time to vetting transcriptions that we have generated in recent years so that they are ready to join the growing body of material in EMMO (Early Modern Manuscripts Online). But the grant funds this work for a limited time. With this in mind, the Steering Committee has resolved individually to transcribe a certain number of pages from Folger MS Wa87 (available in the EMROC folder in Dromio), by late spring to generate as many documents as possible to be placed in the queue for vetting while the funding is still in place.

In the spirit of collaboration that drives EMROC, we invite you to join us in transcribing this book (even if only one page) and to help us maximize this opportunity to create a truly significant and research-changing data-set. If the spirit of collaboration isn’t enough to motivate you, perhaps knowing that this will: in this early 18th century anonymous receipt book you will find the secrets to making quince cakes or “To boyle a Duck ye French way,” or Dr. Dassy’s elixir, or “How to make a Battalia Pie”–and so much more.

Warmest wishes, and Happy New Year,
The EMROC Steering Committee

Rebecca Laroche
Elaine Leong
Jen Munroe
Hillary Nunn
Lisa Smith
Amy Tigner

How Not to Teach Recipe Transcription

By Robin Kello, PhD Student, UCLA (formerly, MA Student and co-founder of EMPS, UNC Charlotte)

 

Ahem. These manuscript books are portraits of the past. The past is another country, in which we discover the oddities and continuities of our own cultures and customs.”

Eyes glaze over in my “Food and Social Justice” course. A young man pulls the brim of his baseball cap lower over his eyes. Their phones suddenly become even more attractive to their restless attentions. The temperature rises. I am doing it again—trying to impart wisdom.

Much to the dismay of their future teachers, I encourage students to ask that most difficult of questions—Why do it?—about any intellectual endeavor. How might Calculus, Film History, Business, or indeed recipe transcription, add to one’s life? I emphasize values that transcend the economic, visions that emerge out of new labors, how the recipes on these centuries-old pages articulate relations between the human and nonhuman worlds. Perhaps that energy is at times infectious, but a monologue, no matter how ecstatic, remains a monologue.

The transcribathon provides another model—more immediate than trying to convince—of exposing undergraduate students, who may be drawn to digital literacies and the use of the internet to broaden the realm of knowledge, to the work of recipe transcription. It replaces description with discussion. In place of explanation of discovery, there is discovery itself: the deciphering of a troubling letter, a slanted secretary-handed word, a thoroughly weird recipe. Wait, does that say “Sheepeshead Pudden?”

On April 8, 2016, the Early Modern Paleography Society of UNC-Charlotte (full disclosure: I serve as their note-scribbler, the secretary who is vexed and awed by secretary hand) hosted a transcribathon. During the course of the day, novices and old-hands alike worked their way through an anonymous 1720 manuscript of recipes and remedies. EMPS even provided a sample of candied Angelica, cooked according to the specifications of the manuscript. If you have ever longed to cross celery and licorice, I recommend get your hands on this recipe.

The transcribathon itinerary included a panel discussion with students, professors, and a representative from the botanical gardens of UNC-Charlotte, who conversed on their relationship to this sort of work from perspectives that bridged Environmental Sciences and the Humanities, and touched on the political and ethical aspects of reflecting on human/nonhuman relations by way of seventeenth and eighteenth-century manuscripts. Their points of view provided a constellation of entry points into the study of early modern texts—spanning from Shakespeare to the North Carolina soil, from the leaf of the page to the leaf of the branch. A student interested in literature, history, new instructional technologies, or collective learning—each had a window into a way of conceptualizing this labor, before engaging in the labor itself, and they continued to ask questions about the panel participants long after the day was over.

But on the day, we got back to work, eyes on screens and fingers on keys, not just watching and interpreting but creating. I would like to think that what may have seemed esoteric to my students became immediate and concrete at the transcribathon, that I helped them cross theory and action, the warp and weft of all valuable labor. At the end of the term, I asked my students what the most interesting aspect of the course was, and a few said the transcribathon.

The 1st Annual EMPS Transcribathon

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 1.30.15 PM

The officers of the Early Modern Paleography Society at UNC Charlotte have been (very) busily preparing for our first annual EMPS Transcribathon!

The Transcribathon will take place on Friday, April 8th, 2016 from 10 am – 3 pm EDT. Our main headquarters will be on the campus of UNC Charlotte, in the Student Union rooms 340C&F, but if you can’t make it to Charlotte, we’d love for you to participate remotely! As of right now, we have transcribers planning to participate both nationally and internationally – from Colorado Springs to Berlin!

Our main goal is to completely transcribe an anonymous 18th century manuscript recipe book that the Folger has set aside for us. We’ll need all the help we can get, so we welcome all participation, whether it’s for the entire day or just half an hour.

We also have various activities planned throughout the day to attract potential new transcribers: there will be games, transcription sprints, and prizes, as well as a panel discussion about the importance of transcription, early modern recipes, and what it’s like to grow ingredients and cook from the recipes we transcribe (among other topics) with panelists from UNC Charlotte, UC Colorado Springs, and UNC Chapel Hill. We’ll also have plenty of coffee and snacks throughout the day and will be meeting afterwards for a wine social at the Wine Vault across the street from campus.

In preparation for the event, our university greenhouse grew angelica, seen below in its abundance:

Angelica

And we got together to candy the angelica for the event, so if you come, you’ll be able to taste:

AngelicaCooking

Angelica2Cooking

If you have any questions or would like to circulate our flyer to your contacts who might like to participate, feel free to send me an email: bward30@uncc.edu.

You can also stay up-to-date on the happenings by “liking” our page on Facebook (facebook.com/empsociety) and following us on Twitter (@empsociety)! Or, for the event, you can use #empstranscribathon2016.

The Very Fine Great Receipt Book of Anne Carr: The Dialogism of a Community

By Breanne Weber
MA Student, UNC Charlotte

The day after the Transcribathon, my fellow graduate students from UNC Charlotte and I spent all day in the Folger’s reading room. Surrounded by hundreds reference books, situated above the decks where rare and fragile manuscripts are preserved, and inspired by the beautiful architecture and scholarly atmosphere, we together pored over each manuscript we requested for our own projects, sharing exciting and strange finds. We spent hours in the Folger reading room that day, breaking only for a very late lunch so that we could return until closing.

AnneCarr'sBook

I spent nearly all of my hours in the reading room with the 1673 Choyce receits collected out of the book of receits, of the Lady Vere Wilkinson, begun to be written by the Right Honble the Lady Anne Carr. The names listed on the title page of this receipt book – Lady Vere Wilkinson, Lady Anne Carr, and Susana Hixon – illustrate from its beginning the collaboration that took place in the creation of this particular recipe book. I was thus unsurprised to find that the pages of this particular book were filled with different hands.

DifferentHandwritings

Such collaboration permeates the text, as each page details various recipes, from medicines to cakes to drinks. Many pages list several different versions of the same recipe, such as how to make “sugar cakes” (the second recipe labeled “another sort of sugar cakes”). The recipes are often labeled according to contributor, in a similar fashion to those spiral-bound church cookbooks filled with recipes for Jell-O Salad and mushroom soup-based casseroles: Anne Carr’s receipt book contains “The Lady Trevors way of preserving grapes green in jelly” and a recipe “To dry plumms naturally – Mrs Harringtons way.” Labeling the recipes with the names of their creators or contributors not only serves to distinguish between similar foods or medicines, but it also illustrates the collaboration and community that surrounded the creation of such recipe books. For Anne Carr, or any reader of this book, to distinguish between the nearly identical recipes for making grape preserves, she needs to know those women who contributed the recipes.

In Anne Carr’s book, there are sometimes annotations – inserted either by the writer herself or by another reader – which also help guide readers to choose specific recipes over others. For instance, “The Countesse of Lincolns way of makeing pancakes” is qualified with the phrase “which she used to make for the King & Duchesse of York.” Clearly, if the Countess of Lincoln made them for the King, her pancakes must be worth making! In a similar fashion, other contributors qualify their recipes in their titles: page 43 features a recipe for “a very fine great cake” while another, earlier page describes how “to make Apricock Cakes the best way.” Not all of these qualifications are necessarily good, however; one recipe, for “damson wine,” contains an added annotation in a different hand: “the worst in the world.”

WorstintheWorld

Through their titles and annotations, these contributors to Anne Carr’s recipe book provide their authority on these subjects – gained through the experience of trying these recipes and sharing their thoughts with others. They participate in a continued dialogue, encouraging future readers to either try a particular recipe or stay clear from it. They assume others will use these recipes to make their own version of the Countess of Lincoln’s pancakes or to modify the worst damson wine in the world. Their words are a continuous call-and-response, hearkening back to their own personal experiences of developing these recipes while simultaneously anticipating the needs and desires of future readers. These women have built, across cultures, continents, and time, a community that still thrives today.

As for our postmodern transcription community, we have a wonderfully glorious responsibility: to further the legacy that these early moderns have left behind. To keep this community alive, we need only open, read, and share the magic found within the fragile pages of these manuscripts.