Cookbooks: Past, Present and Future

Event Details

  • Event date: 02/03/2019
  • Venue: University of Portsmouth
  • CFP Deadline: 07/01/2019

Keynote speaker: Jack Monroe (food writer & activist); Panellists: Lulu Grimes (hub editor, BBC Good Food) and  Katie Quinn (food vlogger & writer)


The cookbook has long occupied an important cultural position. As an early printed book it was a prized heirloom treasured across generations, and in more recent times it has appeared in diverse forms to accommodate a range of eating preferences and cultural interests. The contents of a recipe book have been moulded to significant historical events, such as frugal cookbooks in wartime, and compiled to celebrate important events in the cultural calendar, with cookery books for Christmas feasting or birthday parties. Cookbook writers have recorded social change by focussing on different life stages and social groups at particular historical moments, including the Victorian child and the modern housewife. Some cookbook writers have, through extensive media exposure, sought the mantle of celebrity. However, in broader ways cookery books, alongside their writers and readers, have entered the cultural imagination through novels, films, and television programmes, even going on to influence adjunctive fields such as art and tourism. Additionally, the recipe book can be understood as a cultural text, even a language which offers meaning through subjective identity, creative expression and lifestyle choices. Increasingly, however, with the turn to the online world, we question whether this traditional collection of recipes is in danger of being replaced by easily-available single recipe internet searches. This symposium will consider the history of the cookbook, its cultural proliferation and significance, and its future in the cyber world, the smart home and the internet of things. Papers might include:


  • Aspects of the history of the cookery book
  • Diverse forms and formats of the cookery book
  • Social, historical, political or cultural moments recorded by the cookery book
  • The cookery book as expression of subjectivity, creativity or lifestyle
  • Celebrity cookbook writers
  • The cultural reach of the cookery book
  • The future of recipes online, in the smart home and the internet of things


Please send abstracts of 300 words to Acceptance will be confirmed by mid January.