French Class Project

Digital Renaissance Cookbook

Banquet à la Renaissance

The nef was a boat-shaped table ornament

Salade d'orenges et d'herbes

Chapon rosty à la saulce camelline

Pasté de venaison à la saulce chaude

Tarte jacopine

Poires à l'ypocras

Bon pain, bon vin

In Professor Tomasik’s French Senior Seminar course, two French majors set out to learn some of the basics of Renaissance cuisine and the history of its cookbooks, Prof. Tomasik’s primary scholarly expertise.  The goal was to produce a digital scholarly edition. The students needed to learn about print culture and the history of the book so as to understand the format of a Renaissance printed book.

At the end of the semester, a Renaissance banquet was organized, centered around dishes included in the cookbook. French students and faculty were invited to this convivial event, which included a presentation by the seniors as well as a formal, four-course banquet that both challenged and (pleasantly) surprised those in attendance.

Two French majors, Jennifer and Andrea, participated in an experimental project for their Senior Seminar course, French 493.  The goal of the project was to produce a digital scholarly edition of a Renaissance cookbook.

In order to produce the electronic edition, the students also needed to learn how to read the gothic script of the original text and then transcribe it correctly. In addition, they took on the even more daunting challenge of learning how to code the text using XML and the markup conventions from TEI (text encoding initiative). Before the end of the semester, they were able to code more than 90% of the original text.

Once the marked up data was in place, Prof. Tomasik called on the assistance of colleagues and students from CIS (Computer and Information Sciences) to help build a web interface for the digital edition. Two students, Isaiah and Nate, under the guidance of Professor Rosasco, created a web page for the text using a template called TEI Boilerplate. Since the French students had painstakingly coded modernized spellings in their transcriptions of the original text, the CS students created a toggle for readers to either see a default version that shows both the original and regularized spellings at the same time, a regularized version that only shows the corrections, or a verbatim version that shows the exact original text. Additionally, they provided links for each page to a PDF of the original document so that readers can compare the digital transcription to the original text.