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2011 Shakespeare's Birthday Lecture

Wendy Wall
Food for Thought: Shakespeare and the Art of the Kitchen


Wendy Wall

What power did the Renaissance recipe hold?


In All’s Well That Ends Well, Shakespeare presents a heroine who uses a secret recipe to perform a miraculous feat. In this Shakespearean play and others, common domestic tasks like seasoning, preserving, and distilling pose knotty intellectual questions about art, nature, knowledge, and time. In this lecture, Wendy Wall examines the world of recipe writing in early modern England to show the unexpected ways that kitchen work presented forceful recipes for thought, both on and off the Shakespearean stage.


This lecture was delivered in the Folger's Elizabethan Theatre on Monday, April 25, 2011. Wall was introduced by Folger Head of Reference Georgianna Ziegler.


Wendy Wall is Professor of English Literature at Northwestern University.  She has a wide-range of interests, which include editorial theory, gender, national identity, the history of authorship, Renaissance poetry, food studies, housework, theatrical practice, and Jell-O. Professor Wall is author of Imprint of Gender: Authorship and Publication in the English Renaissance and Staging Domesticity: Household Work and English Identity in Early Modern Drama, which was a finalist for the James Russell Lowell prize awarded by the MLA and a 2002 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award Winner.  A former trustee for the Shakespeare Association of America, she is currently at work on a book entitled Strange Kitchens: Knowledge and Taste in English Recipe Books, 1550–1750.


The annual Shakespeare's Birthday Lecture is sponsored by the Folger Institute.


Each year, a scholar delivers a lecture on Shakespeare as part of the Folger's celebration of the Bard's Birthday. This tradition dates back to the library's founding in 1932 when Joseph Quincy Adams spoke on "Shakespeare and American Culture."

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Recipe Books in the Folger Collection


Wendy Wall:
Food for Thought: Shakespeare and the Art of the Kitchen


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