Feb 25, 2024  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Bulletin 
2020-2021 Undergraduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

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ENGL 196 A-Z - Readings in Literature or Special Studies

Semester Hours: 1-3

Fall, Spring
Each semester, the department offers several “special studies” courses. These courses deal with specific issues, themes, genres, and authors. Intensive study of major authors and/or literary themes. Subjects to be selected yearly.

Current Special Topics

English 196L, CRN: 23897: Caffeine Culture: Literature and Food

This course is cross-listed with FST 005B.

Imagine tasting something that has the power not only to enthrall your senses but also to change how you see yourself and conceptualize your cultural identity. Writers who have sought to capture transformative experiences like these in their short stories, novels, and essays give expression in their work to broader cultural and historical shifts. As we read their work through an interdisciplinary lens in this Special Topics course, the fictional worlds that they create take on new dimensions. Intensely curious children and young adults often play the central roles in these fictional worlds, as do three principal products–coffee, tea, and sugar—that represent contrasts between self-discipline and overindulgence, as well as between comfort and deprivation.  In turn, familiar as coffee, tea, and sugar may seem to be, the stimulating effects produced by mixing caffeine and sugar became part of the cultural rituals practiced in the West only when the modern world took shape and global trading networks were established, giving rise to new spaces of social interaction such as coffeehouses. Other texts in our course track imported food and beverage products like these back to their places of origin to give voice to those who labor to cultivate these products or support movements advocating for political reform and social justice. Our reading list will be comprised of literary texts, such as Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market,” George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, and selected chapters from Stanley Mintz’s Sweetness and Power; Tom Standage’s A History of the World in Six Glasses; and Andrea Stuart’s Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire.

Prerequisite(s)/Course Notes:
WSC 001 . The topics of the “special studies” courses change every semester. Please consult the English Department Course Description Booklet for topics offered in a particular semester.

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