Conference Schedule

Thursday, May 12, 2016

9:30-10:00:  Registration

10:00-11:30:  Session 1: The ‘Who, What, When, and Why’ of Cookery Manuscripts
Cathy Kaufman, organizer: Don Lindgren, Helga Muellneritsch, and Nick Malgieri

Manuscript cookbooks are a specialized genre of culinary writing, often taking different forms, fulfilling different functions, and having different foci from contemporaneous printed sources. In addition to defining the basic parameters of what constitutes a “manuscript cookery book” and the role that they have played in their users’ lives and suggest a taxonomy of cookery manuscripts in their many forms, including some that are being created or redefined today by new technologies.

11:30-12:15:  Session 2: From Pen to Print? How Culinary Ideas Move and the Tool of the Cook’s Oracle with Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, introduced by Katherine McIver

Barbara Wheaton has devoted a lifetime to creating a searchable database of culinary works, and has also suffered the romantic press of manuscripts as the “authentic” indicator of culinary practice. Based on the previously-hard-to-find information that can be gleaned from her Cook’s Oracle database, Wheaton will demonstrate a new way of doing culinary history that will shed light on both printed and manuscript sources. She will happily take questions from researchers throughout the remainder of the conference.

12:15-1:30:  Lunch Break

1:30-2:45:  Session 3: The Challenges of Preparing Historical Manuscripts for Publication
Cara De Silva, organizer: Nathalie Cooke, Madeline Shanahan, Jen Rubio

Few of us are fortunate enough to see manuscript cookbooks before they are in print, making it hard to imagine all that goes into their publication. But many challenges have to be met as a work is transformed from one state to the other. Some aspects of the process are more obvious. Design, annotations, facsimiles, paleography, transcription, and, in general, the use of contemporary techniques and technology. But there are other issues less apparent. How, for instance, does a handwritten work on pages from the distant past become a modern work without losing the critical context provided by the physical object itself? Discussion will focus on these and other ways editors, writers, and publishers meet their responsibilities to manuscripts and prospective readers alike.

2:45-4:15:  Session 4: Digital Humanities: The Dromio Project and EMROC
Stephen Schmidt to introduce the speakers: Heather Wolfe, Hillary Nunn and Jennifer Munroe

4:15-4:30:  Break

4:30:-5:15:  Session 5 Keynote: Stephen Schmidt

Local, Seasonal, Sustainable, Healthy, Regional, Home-Cooked, and Trending: The Difficulty of Seeing Historical Cooking in its Time

All histories are bent toward their era’s particular obsessions and distorted by its assumptions and prejudices. But this is particularly true of histories of food and cooking because these matters are especially fraught, popularly linked to health and longevity, heavily politicized, multiply monetized, bound up with unspoken snobberies, and sentimentalized from myriad standpoints. The keynote will consider the difficulties of thinking historically about food and cooking and propose some workarounds.

5:15-6:15:  Reception

Friday, May 13, 2016

9:30-10:45:  Session 6: The Process of Discovery: Tales of Researchers’ Experiences with Manuscripts
Sarah Kernan, organizer; Ken Albala, Anne Mendelson, Marissa Nicosia, Rachel Snell

All people who have done serious detective work on culinary manuscripts have known their share of fruitful quests, frustrating dead ends, and surprising twists in the road. Four researchers share stories of their own adventures or in some cases misadventures with manuscript cookbooks.

10:45-11:00:  Break

11:00-12:15:  Session 7: Navigating a Cookery Manuscript: How to Interpret What You See
Anne Mendelson, organizer: Sandy Oliver, Don Lindgren, Peter Rose, William Woys Weaver (tentative)

The panel will explore some of the problems inherent in making sense out of culinary manuscripts. In some cases this  begins with trying to establish the date and provenance of the physical object. Deciphering handwriting accurately enough to produce a clear transcription can involve both general issues (e.g., the cursive handwriting style and spelling conventions of a particular era or place) and one-of-a-kind problems (such as the writer’s pet abbreviations). Depending on the age and origin of the manuscript, the researcher may have to become acquainted with archaic forms of English or other languages. Just as important is familiarizing oneself with the cultural and culinary context of the period through looking at contemporaneous printed cookbooks and secondary research by culinary historians.

12:15-1:15:  Lunch Break

1:15-2:15:  Session 8: Family Documents: Two Case Studies
Bruce Kraig will chair; presenters will be Andy Coe and Ellie Carlson

The boxes and notebooks that lurk in private hands are potential treasure troves of culinary history, yet how does one deal with these family heirlooms? Issues of organization, preservation, and efforts to make these unique documents accessible to a broader audience will be the focus of this panel, including a “first steps” kit that results from Rounds’s attempts to find a suitable home for more than 50 years of family recipes and associated ephemera.

2:15-3:30:  Session 9: Regional and Ethnic Identity Through Cooking Practices in Manuscripts
Panelists: Bruce Kraig (also organizer), Judy Polinsky, Ellie Carlson, Ann Flessor Beck

Manuscripts are often excellent sources for tracking down actual cooking practices: the splattered page and annotations confirm use in the kitchen. By examining multiple manuscripts from particular localities, this panel will suggest how these documents can be used to study regional, ethnic, community, and family identities.

3:30-3:45:  Break

3:45 – 5:15:  Session 10: Cookery Manuscripts: The Librarians’ Role
Marvin Taylor, organizer:  Rebecca Federman, NYPL; Anne Garner, NYAM; Nina Nazionale, NY Historical Society; Charlotte Priddle, Fales

Though research libraries  in North America and elsewhere are rapidly expanding their holdings in the food studies area, not all of these recently built collections include manuscript cookbooks. This panel draws on the expertise of librarians from institutions that pioneered in collecting culinary manuscripts at a time when most research libraries routinely ignored food studies. Representatives of several leading collections will discuss the joys and challenges of building a collection of manuscript cookbooks, in the hope of helping us all understand why they are indispensable to serious food studies programs.

End of Conference