Call for Papers: Decoding Recipes Workshop

Date / time: 1 December, 12:00 am

This two-day hybrid workshop, jointly supported by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust, aims to explore recipes as sources and methods for thinking and writing about the past. As demonstrated by a growing corpus across a number of fields, recipes offer a rich and traditionally underutilised body of evidence. The workshop will build on this important emerging scholarship to investigate the complex relationship(s) between knowledge and its transmission and transformation into practice, resulting in tangible and/or ephemeral materials and objects. Broadly defining recipes as codes of knowledge and practice, we want to:

  • Explore recipes without being limited by traditional disciplinary borders (i.e., we encourage proposals from individuals working on recipes in the context of medicine, alchemy, food, perfume, cosmetics, textiles, paints, and other such areas of artisanal production)
  • Consider questions of how recipes were produced, recorded, and received
  • Examine their successful executions and failures, lives and afterlives
  • Think through the circulation, dissemination, and evolution of recipes over time
  • Facilitate conversations between scholars working on recipes and practical knowledge across time periods, linguistic registers, and geographies. The scope of this workshop is truly global and we are excited to learn from scholars invested in non-European histories
  • Investigate the dynamics of translation in multiple directions, e.g., between knowledge and practice, between oral and written forms of communication and record keeping, between different languages and contexts of use, etc.
  • Understand modern and contemporary re-creation techniques and adaptation of practices involving pre-modern recipes.

While we intend to centre premodern recipes (i.e., up to c. 1800 CE), we would welcome proposals from modernists working on the reception, adaptation, and reconfiguration of practical knowledge from this time period.

Workshop plans and important dates:

  • The workshop will be held in October 2023, with participants able to join us in-person at the University of Sheffield or virtually. For in-person participants, three nights of accommodation in Sheffield can be offered.
  • We are looking for papers dealing with original and previously unpublished material because we hope that the contributions will form a peer-reviewed edited volume (rough guidance for the final version of the papers: 8000-10,000 words including footnotes).
  • A first draft of all papers must be completed to be pre-circulated among participants by 1 August 2023.
  • To facilitate active dialogue and enriching conversations during the workshop, speakers will be grouped into clusters of 2-3 papers; each speaker will give a short presentation (c. 10-15 minutes) outlining their paper followed by responses from their cluster and an open discussion.

We invite abstracts of no more than 250 words to be submitted to Claire Burridge ( and Neha Vermani ( by 1 December 2022.