I am writing to introduce myself as the newest member of the TLW team. I am very excited to have recently joined as an online committee member! I will be involved in managing the blog and Twitter accounts, as well as organising the wonderful events and bookclubs that TLW have in store.
Over the past few years I have attended the University of Glasgow, getting my MA in English Literature and my MLitt in Victorian Literature there. Over that time I have attended numerous TLW events, so I am thrilled to now be involved in such a valuable and important community.
My current research is slightly at odds with the TLW rubric, in that I consider recipes and literature from nineteenth-century Britain. My PhD project – ‘The Technical Recipe: A Formal Analysis of Nineteenth-century Food Writing – uses a formal reading to chart the development of the recipe as a textual genre, as well as investigating the innovations in material food technology that influenced Victorian eating and cooking. As such, my project sits across the disciplines of English Literature and the History of Technology, and I have one supervisor at the University of Glasgow and another at the University of Aberdeen. It’s fair to say, then, that I’m used to my interests being spread across multiple areas!
One of my core beliefs when it comes to my research, and in general, is that recipes, domestic texts and women’s writing have the ability and power to both highlight the structures that govern society, but also to disrupt them. Given the domestic slant of my work, and the fact that the majority of historical food texts were marketed at and read by women (either housewives or their female servants), I am passionate about uncovering the latent power that is so often overlooked in these texts. Recipes are not normally deemed ‘literary’, and cookbooks – like popular fiction – are too often dismissed as ‘feminine’ unscholarly texts, and are therefore overlooked in scholarship. The gap this creates is one I see as full of potential.
The hidden texts read daily by hidden women do not just represent and strengthen the patriarchal structures those women work within, in the domestic sphere. Those texts also have the potential to upset those systems and create spaces within patriarchal societies in which women can express themselves.
It is this interest that has lead me to the TLW and the events they put on, as they create a space in which women’s writing is at the fore. Having fruitful discussions with likeminded readers is such a rewarding thing, and demonstrates the good that comes from paying attention to women writers who have used their writing to create a space of power and presence. Moreover, my interest in food has always led me to those transatlantic women who adapt and create new culinary trends in their travels. From the endlessly influential Julia Child, to Elizabeth David, to M.F.K Fisher, whose writing about crossing the Atlantic in The Gastronomical Me is incredibly beautiful, these women have always used food as a means of creating community across the ocean – and that is something I find fascinating.
I am therefore very excited to get involved with the TLW team, and be a part of the very necessary conversations they facilitate. And who knows, maybe some tantalising discussions about female foodies lie in our future!