Transcribing, Coding and Eating Our Way Through a Renaissance French Cookbook

Faculty Sponsor

Timothy Tomasik


Arts and Sciences


Foreign Languages

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-4-2017


The process of creating a digital scholarly edition of a Renaissance French cookbook, Le Livre de cuysine [The Book of Cookery], provided a unique opportunity to study the history of 16th century cuisine. This project required learning how to read a Gothic printed text and understanding the recipes contained in a cookbook from this period. The final project involved transcribing and then coding the text in XML using TEI mark-up language. Along the way, we had to make editorial decisions that arose because of the nature of the cookbook text. For example, TEI coding requires that paragraphs be distinguished in the text and coding. This posed a challenge because the cookbook did not have clearly divided paragraphs. The archaic spelling in the original text also raised questions about whether or not to modernize the spelling. Finally, since this cookbook edition was filled with printing mistakes, we occasionally had to insert notes to explain difficult passages. In the end, the completed digitized text now allows new access to scholars to learn more about the text and Renaissance French cuisine. Instead of participating in a traditional lecture course on French literature, we were able to obtain hands-on experience doing actual scholarly research. The experiential nature of the course then culminated in a Renaissance French banquet complete with dishes made from recipes out of Le Livre de cuysine.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

"Transcribing, Coding and Eating Our Way Through a Renaissance French Cookbook" is a project that came about with two seniors and one professor. Jennifer LeCaptain, a music industry and French major, and Andrea Sanchez, a political science and French major, decided to embark on one of their most difficult projects thus far. For their senior seminar, Professor Timothy Tomasik gave them a wide range of options when deciding what their senior project should be. They decided to try something new and different. They picked a cookbook from the Renaissance and decided to transcribe it, as well as correct some of the French into more modern French. They then learned to code in order to create a digital edition of their version of the Renaissance book. They decided to take this project on because it would really challenge the perception of what can be done with language studies. They gained new skills such as reading Gothic text and a bit of coding. These skills will help achieve their career goals by adding a different dimension of capabilities. After graduation, Jennifer plans to start a career in the music industry that can best utilize her skills and experiences, while Andrea plans on attending law school in the hopes of becoming a lawyer.

This document is currently not available here.