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Domestic frontispieces and the knowledge of the early modern home, 1600–1750

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Silvia M. Marchiori.

The 17th century witnessed a huge boom in the publication of household recipe books and domestic manuals. Many of these books contain detailed frontispieces depicting domestic scenes, providing us with a rare glimpse of the 17th-century domestic landscape. As Amanda Herbert advises, the ‘study of the impact and intent of early modern prescriptive literature must… include analysis of both the images and the text of these works’. This talk aims to establish what domestic frontispieces can tell us about the knowledge required to manage the early modern home. What can we glean about the nature and extent of this knowledge? How was such knowledge transferred and communicated? Were there clear gender divides in the knowledge possessed by women and men or was there significant overlap? Lucy Havard will argue that managing the early modern home was a complex and skilled undertaking, requiring an extensive knowledge base that is reflected in surviving 17th-century cookery books and domestic manuals today.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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