Posts on March 2018
from Beyond the Reading Room

Dining with Jane Austen IV: Dancing the Night Away

Woman dancing in a pink and white, ankle-length ball gown with empire waist. Hair is pulled back with a headband and put up in ringlets at the back of her head.

As the fashionable elite came to eat dinner later and later in the day, supper became almost obsolete. As Maria Rundell notes in the 1813 edition of A New System of Domestic Cookery, “hot suppers are not much in use where people dine very late.” One exception to this rule was a ball, when late hours and active exercise called for substantial evening fare. In Emma, several of the main characters visit a local inn to assess its ability to host a ball, and much is made of the question of where to...

Wednesday March 28th at 6:00pm: Screening of Selections from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Screenshot showing Lizzie smiling at Lydia, who is offering a high-five

Have you ever wondered what the Bennet sisters' adventures in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice might look like in the 21st century? On Wednesday, March 28th from 6:00-7:30pm, join Anne Charlotte Mecklenburg, PhD student in the University of Michigan's English Department, for a screening of selected mini-episodes from the web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, followed by discussion. This event will take place in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, Screening Room 2160.

Dining with Jane Austen III: A Company Dinner

Woman standing, wearing an orange dress with white fan-shaped decorations down the front.

As noted in Dining with Jane Austen II: No Such Thing as Lunch?, dinner shifted from noon-time to evening over the course of the 18th century, but this change occurred slowly and unevenly, with the result that certain households - especially those with claims to urbanity and fashion - might eat their main meal of the day much later than others. In Sense and Sensibility, The Dashwoods dine at 4pm at home in Barton Cottage, but in London, Mrs. Jenning’s begins dinner at 5 o’clock. In Pride and...

Dining with Jane Austen II: No Such Thing as Lunch?

Woman in a blue and white dress siting on a pale yellow sofa, drinking tea

Over the course of the eighteenth century, the time and contents of meals gradually shifted. By the turn of the 19th century, dinner had become detached from its earlier noontime association and might be eaten anytime from mid-afternoon to as late as six or seven o’clock in the evening. However, lunch had not yet become a commonly established sit-down meal. Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary of 1755 defines “lunch” or “luncheon” as “as much food as one’s hand can hold,” in other words, a sort of snack...

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