Teaching Recipes Online: Building Community and Purpose

By Rebecca Laroche

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 12.17.58 PMI started teaching an early modern survey of women writers online in 2002.  My reasons were many, not the least of which were feminist.  Serving a largely military community, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs had more than its share of military spouses, mainly women, who had suddenly found themselves single parents as their husbands were deployed in Afghanistan, then Iraq, and online courses provided the means to continue their education in a flexible manner. The fact that extensive research in early modern women coincided with the establishment of online databases meant that the course’s content was also in line with its form.  Our primary “textbook” was Women Writers Online, then recently released by Brown University. My position at a rapidly growing research university serving a large geographic region meant there were resources for teaching online, and we were in many ways ahead of the national trend. I was able to experiment with different discussion formats and social media manipulations that spoke to the need for intellectual community and deep inquiry within the format.

It wasn’t until a necessary hiatus from online teaching while chairing the department and a sabbatical in 2012 that I came to a profound realization about this aspect of my teaching self, however. Many professors who are teaching online, including myslef, have gone about it all wrong.  The online environment is not simply an update of the classroom to which one translates what you’ve already taught, approximating in the virtual that which we’d come to value in the real. Rather it is its own sphere with its own pedagogical aims and outcomes.  And in this realization, I have developed Early Modern Women Writers Point Two.

You see, during 2012, I also became a founding member of the Early Modern Recipes Online Collective (EMROC), an international group of scholars committed to creating a database of English recipe manuscripts 1550 to 1850, transcribed and searchable. With hundreds of these manuscripts extant, the task was huge, yet we had all come to recognize the importance and richness of the work.  And with women’s key roles in the genre, it was feminist work, clearly. In our first meetings, it became apparent that this work could sustain generations of scholarship, but it also became certain that it could sustain teaching.

Before becoming chair, I had begun to incorporate “online edition” assignments into ENGL 3200, as one challenge to having Women Writers Online as one’s textbook was the lack of editorial mediation for students.  They could not understand the texts, not because they were incomprehensible, but because they were early modern and had not been “Nortonized.” I wanted students to see that, in line with the theorization of Margaret Ezell, the problem of women writers in the Renaissance was not that there were so few but that there were so few made accessible to modern readers.[1]  Having students make their own edition not only helped to make the works more accessible to students it also made them to realize the work of making things accessible, work from which the male canon had benefited for a century and which still remained to be done for many early modern texts.

From this assignment, recipes were an easy leap, and in the last two manifestations of the course I have made EMROC’s mission the work of the second half of the course.  In these months, students learned to transcribe (currently I use the Cambridge University transcription site and various handouts from Textual Communities), read entries from the Recipes Project blog (to learn about the extensive scholarship at play), performed group work in transcription, transcribed a page of the text themselves, took on the basics of XML, and submitted the document either directly to the database (making them a contributing member) or to me to be submitted with a note to their work. It is difficult scholarship, and at first quite daunting, but the group support meant that the task that first seemed impossible suddenly (often magically) became recognizable.  With the help of the OED (introduced during the online edition portion of the course), they were developing early modern vocabulary and became enmeshed with early modern concerns.  The early modern period, and the labor women did in that time, was alive to them in ways never before experienced.

After two semesters of teaching the course this way, I have had several students catch fire with this mission and with their roles as undergraduate researchers. In October, you will be able to read the research done by two students who continued their coursework on Catchmay in an independent study. One of these young women is even looking into her MLS degree so she can continue to work in the archive.  As they contribute to the database a year after their coursework, I will be teaching two sections of the course in the Spring of 2015.  As my students are transcribing in tandem with other face-to-face courses across the country (see Amy Tigner and Jen Munroe later this month), the online medium underlines the future of collaboration.  You see, to this day, the steering committee of EMROC continues to meet bimonthly on Google+.

[1]. Margaret Ezell, Writing Women’s Literary History (Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993).

Exploring CPP 10a214: Lady Honywood, Continued; or On E. Layfield’s Gout

By Rebecca Laroche with Hillary Nunn

In my entry in April, I introduced a medical practitioner, Lady Honywood, who had recipes attributed to her in The College of Physicians of Philadelphia manuscript owned by Anne Layfield.  Lady Honywood’s reputation as a devout nonconformist and medical practitioner have been recorded in the diary of Ralph Josselin. Her recipes appearing in another recipe book not only give us more evidence of her practice, but also reveal something new about the Layfield manuscript.

Three recipes attributed to Lady Honywood appear in the 1680 manuscript compiled by Johanna St. John, which has been discussed at length in a previous post by Elaine Leong.  These recipes are scattered throughout the St. John manuscript and are treatments for three very different conditions.  The initial Honywood attribution, which appears early on in the manuscript, is an “admirable thing for a cancer.”  This was the second time that Johanna St. John had recorded a recipe for cancer on that page – the first being attributed to a Lady Temple:

 
Honywood recipe in St John copy
Wellcome MS 4338, digital image 0010.

As the two recipes that frame these are for the sore breast, the implicit location of this canker is on the breast as well.

The next lies amongst a series of cough medicines, “For the Cough of the Lungs, / which has cured thos that have died one gene / ration after another”:

Wellcome MS 4338 digital Image 0068
Wellcome MS 4338, digital image 0068

The recipe record, while short, gives testimony not only to the recipes efficacy, but also to Lady Honywood’s acumen.  She, after all, has cured a disease that had been plaguing a family for decades.  The final recipe bears full transcription because so brief and carries a tinge of magical thinking (see posts by Laura Mitchell on this site),  “Lady Honywood to prevent miscarying,” which reads simply “A dryed Toad & hang it about the wast.”  [1]

In isolation, these three Honywood recipes are of a piece with many we have seen:  two medical practitioners exchange their knowledge, and one, under different topics, has organized that knowledge along with others she has gleaned.  When we put these recipes next to the Layfield manuscript, however, we gain new insight into how and why the Layfield recipes were collected.

The Honywood recipes in the Layfield manuscript are not the same as those that are found in the St. John recipes.  As a reminder, the first two of the three Honywood recipes collected by E. Layfield were for the gout, the second for the King’s evil.  While E. Layfield and his wife Anne may have practiced medicine among their acquaintances, this document begins to reveal itself as a more local document, as gout seems to be one of its central concerns.  While only four recipes address gout in the Downing half of the manuscript, and then often amongst a list of other ailments, seven recipes are listed specifically for gout in the smaller Layfield section, and one of these (within three pages of the Honywood recipes), “An excellent Receite for the Goute, to giue ease,” ends with this attribution and testimony: “Master Rob. Wingfeld gaue it me with / much adoe, & great intreaty, at  / Sir Rich. Wingfelds at Easton / Its singular good, I haue tryed it.”[2]

Who the Wingfelds were and where they lived are subjects for further research and another post, but what we can tell from this entry and the collection of Honywood recipes is that the compiler E. Layfield suffered from gout himself, and he asked for recipes from members of his circle for some insight toward relief.

[1] Wellcome MS 4338, fol. 206.

[2] The Historical  Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, MS 10a214, fol. 224.

Exploring CPP 10a214: Enter Lady Honywood

By Rebecca Laroche with Hillary Nunn

It was one of those priceless moments in academe when conversation with colleagues leads to electric discovery. Having just completed a full transcription of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia manuscript, I was attending the Sixteenth-Century Society Conference in Cincinnati in 2012.  I was telling Richelle Munkhoff, University of Colorado Boulder, about how my intimacy with the manuscript had me imagining an historical novel set at the brink of civil war, with a full cast of characters, requisite diseases and injuries, and a quaff or two at the local tavern.  “After all,” I said, “one just has to take advantage of a name like ‘Lady Honywood’ if it’s given to you.”  (In the Layfield section of the document are three recipes attributed to Lady Honywood, all for the gout.) [1]

“Lady Honywood?” Richelle replied.  “I know her.”

Richelle, who had been spending some time with the diary of Ralph Josselin, proceeded to tell me about the historical Lady Honywood, a nonconformist and medical practitioner. With a quick search through Alan Macfarlane’s edition, she was also able to find in the diary mentions of a Mr. Layfield, according to Macfarlane, one Edward Layfield, the rector of Wakes Colne from 1640 to 1666. [2]

Now Lady Honywood, Ralph Josselin, and Rector Layfield, were all located in Essex, about 50 kilometers away from the London suburbs where Hillary Nunn and I had previously located the recipe collection, thus complicating the standing hypothesis of the manuscript circulating in Middlesex.

As of now, I can think of four possibilities for this convergence of names and the inclusion of Lady Honywood, an Essex gentlewoman, in this manuscript:

  1. Our original hypothesis about Edmund Layfield, published pastor, is incorrect, and an Essex rector, Edward Layfield, is the compiler of the document.
  2. There are two clergymen E. Layfield, and the coexistence of these two gentlewomen (Toppisfield and Honywood) in the same book is merely coincidence.
  3. Edward and Edmund Layfield are related to each other, and the recipes circulated between them.
  4. Edmund Layfied of St. Leonards-Bromley relocated to Essex sometime in 1640 [3] and there established an acquaintance with Lady Honywood. The first mention of Mr. Layfield in the diary is in 1648, and the Honywood recipes do come after that of Mrs. Toppisfield discussed in an earlier entry.  In pursuit of this hypothesis, we’d have to confirm or refute the first name Edward as recorded in Alan McFarlane’s note.

Once again, the research continues.

Layfielde_MS Honywood
The Historical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Manuscript 10a214, fol. 221.

[1] “Medicinae Liber,” The Historical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Manuscript 10a214, fols. 221, 214.

[2]The Diary of Ralph Josselin, 1616–1683,  edited by Alan MacFarlane (London: The Oxford University Press, 1976) 120fn.

[3] The Diary of Ralph Josselin, 120.

This is the twelfth in a series of posts on this topic.

Exploring CPP 10a214: The Layfield Hand

By Rebecca Laroche with Hillary Nunn

Since March 2013, Hillary Nunn and I have been using this forum to test out our various theories about one mid-seventeenth-century manuscript held at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia owned by Anne Layfield and dated 1640. So far, we’ve closely examined recipes from the first part of the book (pages 1 through 72), which were written in a clear humanist italic and reportedly compiled by a “Cal. Downing” (06/08/13).Hillary Nunn’s last post pointed to the other dominant hand in the collection, which I will describe further.

We first see the hand in the title of the document, “Medicinae Liber” (“Book of Medicines”) which appears on the front page of the Downing portion. Reading through that section, this handwriting does not appear again until page 74.

The Downing and title-writing hand (hereafter Hand 2) exchange a few pages, then at 79, Hand 2 takes over.It is at this point we catch a glimpse of how this hand connects with the manuscript owner Anne Layfield.On page 79, the recipe is titled “An admirable receite to make a water that /will cure any old sore, giuen to my deare wife /by the Lady Ashborneham as a great treasure/ tryed by her Ladyships sister who got both great /creditt, & rewards for cures done with it”

2012-10-15 DearWifeCpp[1] and another “The rare water to cure all soares made /by my Deare wife” (82).  The attribution of the next recipe for a balsam does not appear in its title, as it is long (6 lines of script), but rather at the end of the directions as “Probatum by Mistress / Anne Layfielde”: [2]

Probatum Anne LayfieldNow the surmise that Anne Layfield is the owner of the recipe book and the same “dear wife” of the previous recipes comes through a close analysis of another part of the collection (pages 207 to 241), almost all of which exists in Hand 2 and is upside down (because of a do-si-do compilation) relative to the Downing portion.

In this section, the compiler, the doting husband of the recipe from page 79, indicates his social network and his medical concerns. As with Calybute Downing, this compiler also ascribes recipes to himself with a “probatum per me” (223), but only with the calligraphic initials ESL:

ESLThe elongated descender of the L, similar to that in “Anne Layfielde,” shows the connection between the attributions, and suggests that Anne Layfield and the “deare wife” may be one and the same. A London marriage recorded between an Edmond Layfield and an Ann King in October of 1640 (the year of the manuscript) affirms this theory. [1]

Other evidence that the “ESL” in question is named Edmund Layfield lies latent in Hillary Nunn’s post in which she reported that the death of George Wilmer (possible husband of the Mistress Wilmer of Bowe in the attribution) was witnessed by Edmund Layfield of St. Leonard-of-Bromley.

This preacher was also the author of two sermons printed in the 1630s, the first of which had as a dedicatee another widow Wilmer of Bowe [2], and the second named an Elizabeth Toppesfield, daughter of Susan Ferrers and wife of William Toppesfield, Esquire. [3]  Testimony to this same social connection can be found in the section compiled by Hand 2, as it contains “Mistris Toppisfields Diett drinke” (231).  Remembering Calybute Downing’s Hackney appointment, we begin to uncover the circulation of recipes within a network of Protestants inhabiting the London area in the 1630s and 1640s. That this network, in the previous generation, may have included Catholics and, in the next decade, may have held both Parliamentarians and Royalists is the subject of our further analysis and research.

All images appear courtesy of The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

[1] familysearch.org. (Accessed 01/02/2104).
[2] Edmund Layfielde, The Mappe of Mans Mortality and Vanity (London, 1630).
[3] Edmund Layfielde, The Sovles Solace (London, 1633).