English 189 - Winter, 2020

Seminar in Literary Studies

    Topic: Consuming the New World

Class Information

Instructor: Dolan, Frances
CRN: 55346
Time: TR 3:10-4:30
Location: 396 Voorhies


    In this small seminar, we will consider dramatic changes to British patterns of consumption in the seventeenth century, and how these changes both resulted from and motivated the expansion of the British empire and the exploitation of persons and resources in Virginia and Barbados (among other locales). We will begin with an early 20th-century novel, THE SECRET GARDEN, in order to consider how foods, drinks, and plants that were new to the English in the seventeenth century had become domestic staples by the nineteenth. We will then turn our focus to the seventeenth century, reading a range of texts, including authobiographies, travel narratives, poems, and plays. We will organize our reading around particular comestibles, including garden plants, tea, coffee, tobacco, corn and potatoes, sugar, and chocolate, attending to where and how they were produced and at what human and environmental cost, as well as how they entered and transformed British life. The reading load will be heavy but widely varied. Presentations, readings, and writing assignments will focus on developing participants' research skills, analytical ability, and creativity.


    Student preparation and participation will be crucial to the seminar's success (30% of the grade total). Students will regularly kick off discussion and give presentations; quizzes will motivate keeping up with the reading. There will also be some short research exercises and a final research paper, as well as a final exam.


    Custom reader, Broadview press
    The Tempest, Shakespeare
    True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados, Richard Ligon
    Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
    Account of Mary Rowlandson's Captivity, Mary Rowlandson