Food, Eating and Identity in Early Medieval England

May 2014
7 black and white illustrations
304 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Anglo-Saxon Studies
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037010, CKB041000, SOC003000

Food, Eating and Identity in Early Medieval England

Allen J. Frantzen

eBook for Handhelds
A fresh approach to the implications of obtaining, preparing, and consuming food, concentrating on the little-investigated routines of everyday life.
Food in the Middle Ages usually evokes images of feasting, speeches, and special occasions, even though most evidence of food culture consists of fragments of ordinary things such as knives, cooking pots, and grinding stones, which are rarely mentioned by contemporary writers. This book puts daily life and its objects at the centre of the food world. It brings together archaeological and textual evidence to show how words and implements associated with food contributed to social identity at all levels of Anglo-Saxon society. It also looks at the networks which connected fields to kitchens and linked rural centres to trading sites. Fasting, redesigned field systems, and the place of fish in the diet are examined in a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary inquiry into the power of food to reveal social complexity.

Allen J. Frantzen is Professor of English at Loyola University Chicago.

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Table of Contents

The symbolic world of food
Food knowledge: texts, feasts, and objects
Food words and Old English genres
The quernstone
Pots for cooking and storage
Food objects in iron
Food objects in wood
Food officers in Handbooks of penance
Laws, food, and settlement change
Fasting and the Anglo-Saxon "fish-event horizon"
Conclusion: Food, Eating and Identity: Anglo-Saxons at the table
Works Cited


Professor Frantzen has made a useful and interesting contribution to the study of food in Anglo-Saxon culture. JOURNAL OF ENGLISH AND GERMANIC PHILOLOGY

An excellent introduction to the topic, one enriched with a goldmine of references for further study. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY

This book is a bold effort to clarify the network of supply and demand and of word and speech, and to set them against the backdrop of identity. It makes an arresting contribution to an important topic. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

Frantzen's work is an important addition to the interdisciplinary study of the early middle ages. Part historical case study, part reflection on how to study the "silent" subjects of history, [it] raises as many questions about objects as it can answer-making it an important methodological step towards integrating theory, material, and text into the study of the "every day" Anglo-Saxon experience. COMITATUS

In this work, Frantzen brings his magisterial command of literary evidence to bear on this project, and reminds his readers of some important features of the early medieval period that are often forgotten due to our traditional focus on the feasting hall and monastic refectory at the top of the social pyramid. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

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