English 189-1 - Winter, 2022

Seminar in Literary Studies

Topic: Consuming Empire

Class Information

Instructor: Dolan, Frances
CRN: 44417
Time: TR 12:10-1:30
Location: 248 Voorhies
GE Areas: Writing Experience


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 focus on the seventeenth century, reading a range of texts, including autobiographies, travel narratives, poems, an early novel, and two Shakespeare plays. We will organize our reading around particular comestibles, including garden plants, tea, coffee, tobacco, 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.


The Tempest, Shakespeare
True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados, Richard Ligon
Account of Mary Rowlandson's Captivity, Mary Rowlandson
Oroonoko (Norton), Behn
Othello (Folger), Shakespeare