Author Biography

Carolin Boettcher received her PhD in Literature from the University of California San Diego, her MA in English from Clark University, and an MA in English and American Literatures, Cultures and Media from Kiel University in Germany. Her research focuses on the materiality of knowledge, the relationship between science and literature, and the material intersections of humanity and nature, in particular with regard to botany.


The recipes included in Jane Barker’s A Patch-Work Screen for the Ladies (1723) appear to be some of the most jarring and out-of-context inclusions in the narrative. This article explores the relationship between Barker’s novel and the form of the recipe collection in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries on both a material and an epistemological level. The entanglements between recipes and the patchwork screen not only point to the processes of constructing and conveying knowledge, but also to the materiality of these processes as Galesia and the Lady build the patchwork screen. Her focus on the materiality of knowledge reinforces Jane Barker’s deep engagement with natural philosophy, the natural world around her, as well as domestic practices when the characters sew literal pieces of paper with poems on cookery and natural philosophy into the patchwork screen. The material and structural influence of the recipe on Barker’s narrative constitutes an additional layer underneath the reigning metaphor of the patchwork screen and textiles in more general. Considering the recipe and recipe collections as underlying metaphors in addition to the patchwork increases the generically experimental character of the Patch-Work Screen.


Jane Barker, recipe, recipe collections, materialism