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Title: Ordering dinner : Victorian celebratory domestic dining in London
Authors: Mars, Valerie
Supervisors: Brock, W. H.
Award date: 1997
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: In the first chapter an explicitly comparative approach is selected to examine changing biases in Victorian middle-class values and attitudes through their domestic dinner-parties. Cultural Theory, derived from social anthropology, with an anthropological emphasis on the significance of commensality is integral to this thesis. The contemporary sources are principally didactic works and Marion Sambourne's (1851-1914) Diary and Menu Notebook. Chapter II investigates French and English culinary history to analyse then compare French system and English eclecticism as the foundation for the adoption or rejection of culinary styles amongst Victorian dinner-givers. In chapter III elaborate Victorian dinner-party cuisine is contrasted with daily dinners and nursery food. Chapter IV takes consomme as a core dinner component to define the various dining constituencies by their choices of quality in cooking method, ingredients and presentation. Chapter V assesses a nineteenth-century tendency to stigmatise kitchen work among middle-range dinner-givers. Changes in technology and labour are demonstrated as integral to the resultant cuisine. Chapters VI and VII follow changes in service style from service a la Francaise to service a la Russe which reflected a paradigm shift in social organisation. English service a la Russe made the table a stage to display glass, china, plate, linen, fruit and flowers. This is then discussed in chapter VIII as an iconography of moral and social values to be adopted or rejected by different constituencies. Chapters IX and X are not only concerned with male/female divisions of responsibility as providers and participants, but also in the hierarchic and individualist contexts of dining practice and etiquette. Locality, furnishings, domestic space, etiquette, smoking, wine, male dining and servants' status are related through a discussion of boundaries: physical, conceptual and behavioural. These bring together the strands of classification that are used as a comparative method of deconstructing a move from established hierarchy to greater individualism among Victorian dinner-giving constituencies in London.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Historical Studies
Leicester Theses

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