The material culture and social practice of dining in England, c.1550-c.1670

Jackson, Victoria Ann (2015). The material culture and social practice of dining in England, c.1550-c.1670. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

[img] JacksonV15PhD.pdf
PDF - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 16 August 2085.

Download (4MB) | Request a copy


This thesis provides the first sustained study of the material culture of dining among the gentry and ‘middling sort’ in early modern England. It focuses on the religious and ritual significance of the shared dining experience, interrogating the role objects played in engendering domestic commensality. The project establishes that through their material properties and ritualized uses, objects such as salt-cellars, eating utensils and banqueting trenchers, were essential instruments in the construction and communication of personal and social identities. I argue that developments in the material paraphernalia of dining functioned to create a sense of continuity and community during this period of profound religious and social change. Chapter One applies the anthropological theory of ‘distributed personhood’ to salt-cellars, offering new insights into why salts were considered particularly effective objects for conveying identity. Chapter Two draws connections between eating utensils and significant moments in the life cycle and argues that utensils could have strong ‘personal’ associations, which commemorated essential rites of passage and functioned as perpetual reminders of familial ties. Chapter Three investigates banqueting trenchers as tools for sociability and collective spiritual contemplation and examines how their visual and material qualities required a specific ‘performance’ from diners. As a whole, the thesis provides a framework for interpreting a neglected body of historical artefacts and it contributes new knowledge about how specific types of crafted objects communicated identity within the context of ritualized social activities.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year