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‘An Experiment to make a flodde of water to com into a howse’: Rethinking the Relationship between Narrative and Performance in Medieval Wonder Recipes

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Peer-reviewed

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Article

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Authors

Bower, Hannah 

Abstract

This article explores relationships between narrative, performance, and empowerment in late medieval recipes for bringing about marvellous transformations (or the illusion of them) in social and domestic spaces. These recipes have been productively framed by scholars as imagined narratives of wish-fulfilment, self-fashioning, and empowerment; the recipes often promise financial, sexual, intellectual, or domestic success. In this article, however, I use two manuscript collections—London, British Library, MS Sloane 1315 and Oxford, Balliol College, MS 354—to interrogate further the relationship between narrative, performance, and power across overlapping domestic, scholarly, and clerical contexts. I demonstrate that risks of failure, humiliation, and transgression are not always assuaged by the narrative structures present in recipes but can, in fact, be foregrounded by them.

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Journal Title

Studies in the Age of Chaucer

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0190-2407
1949-0755

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Publisher

New Chaucer Society, University of Oklahoma

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