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Arts and Crafts in Early Modern Europe: The Case of the Kitchen

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This course looks at the evolution of the kitchen and its contents from the late Middle Ages to the middle of the 18th century. Knowledge of food and cooking developed in ways that closely parallel other forms of technical and scientific knowledge during the same period, formalized and institutionalized by the advent of printing and the increase in trade and travel in Europe and beyond. The class will examine the context for illustrations of kitchens and cooking equipment in print culture alongside the actual spaces and objects that survive, focusing on Italy, France, England, and Germany. Many of the sources for kitchen design and function have not been studied systematically, so the goal is to gain a sense of a tradition that reaches into the history of manners and culminates in the genre of manuals on the arts and professions, the most famous of which is Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, first published in 1751. Students are encouraged to pursue research projects that make use of early printed books. 3 credits.