The Early Modern Households Project

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
20 January 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Early modern households were busy places, with servants, lodgers and extended family coming and going. Households were also centres of production, with family members working alongside each other. Even in political discourse, monarchies were described in household terms.

Looking at a variety of primary sources - from diaries to advice literature and medical treatises - we will consider the political, social, economic and cultural significance of the household in early modern Europe, 1500-1800. In particular, though, we will collectively transcribe and analyse a recipe book: what does such a text reveal about the ideals and practices of the early modern household?

Central themes will include household management, hierarchy, gender, life cycle roles, relationships, kinship, patronage, and practical domestic knowledge. Students will also build a portfolio of online work through their participation in a collaborative digital group research project. To this end, some weeks will be focused on developing the group project and learning about digital tools.

Module aims

The module aims to:

1. Understand the creation, function and transmission of manuscript recipe books in early modern Europe.

2. Think about the household as a fundamental structure in early modern Europe.

3. Collaborate with others in undertaking a close and detailed reading of a primary source.

4. Develop familiarity with digital tools in presenting history.

Module learning outcomes

What will I have done by the end of the module?

1. Written for specialist and general audiences on social media and other online outlets.
2. Used digital tools for research and presentation.
3. Situated and analysed early modern beliefs within a wider historical context through participation in seminar discussions and module assignments.
4. Enhance critical reading, writing and research skills by preparing for seminar discussions and completing the required coursework.
5. Worked as part of a team to develop and complete a project to deadline.
6. Produced a portfolio of digital work that can be listed on your CV (e.g. as scholarly work, public engagement, or online writing).

Module information

General reading list:

Karen Harvey, The Little Republic: Masculinity and Domestic Authority in Eighteenth-century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Elaine Leong, Recipes and Everyday Knowledge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018).

Jennifer Munroe and Rebecca Laroche, eds., Ecofeminist Approaches to Early Modernity (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Alisha Rankin, Panaceia’s Daughters: Noblewomen as Healers in Early Modern Germany (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013).

Learning and teaching methods

Weekly two hour workshops.


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Online group project    20% 
Coursework   Blog Post 1 (1000 words)  18/11/2019  10% 
Coursework   Transcription (2 pages)  12/12/2019  10% 
Coursework   Blog Post 2 (1000 words)  27/01/2020  10% 
Coursework   Blog Post 3 (1000 words)  27/03/2020  10% 
Coursework   Project contribution (1500 words)  04/05/2020  20% 
Coursework   Final project text  19/05/2020  0% 
Practical   Online participation    5% 
Practical   In-class participation    5% 
Practical   Group presentation    10% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Lisa Smith, email:
Dr Lisa Smith
Belinda Waterman, Department of History, 01206 872313



External examiner

Dr Mark Williams
Cardiff University
Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History
Available via Moodle
Of 38 hours, 32 (84.2%) hours available to students:
6 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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