02 June 2009

A peek at the thesis, unpolished...

an excerpt:

The section on plum pudding also demonstrates well the ways in which Mrs. Beeton’s text conveys both imperial codes and pragmatic domestic practice using traditional methods of female discourse. The instructional aspects extend far beyond the preparation of the food. Passages on currants, grape varieties, raisins, brandy and citron are interspersed between the recipes, providing a view of the state of commerce, both throughout the Empire and at home. These insertions also indicate the rising middle class audience the Book served.
When talking about currants, Beeton informs her readers, “When gathered and dried by the sun and air, on mats, they are conveyed to magazines, heaped together, and left to cake, until ready for shipping. They are then dug out by iron crowbars, trodden into casks, and exported.” This information is seemingly disconnected from running a Victorian middle class home. However, the facts surrounding this process demonstrate the commerce-based nature of the empire. A thrifty and economical housewife knows where her food comes from and how it is produce, so she can get the best deals when it comes time for her to purchase what is needed for the household she runs. Knowing that “the fertile vale of “Zante the woody” produces about 9,000,000 lbs. of currants annually,” arms the purchaser with a view of the market that she must enter in order to provide the socially acceptable table required by her class. The fact that “we could not make a plum pudding without the currant” requires certain knowledge of the housewife, what currants are and how and where to purchase them, in addition to how to incorporate them into a domestic practice. What seems to be learning without purpose is in fact driven by the economic factors of middle class living in the British Empire.


  1. Interesting stuff. Much more readable than mine will be, no doubt... :)

    (It's "currants" not "currents" right?)

  2. So, um, yeah... I can't spell... thanks... well, I can, it was just the wrong word...