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HISTORY 402B: Coffee, Sugar, and Chocolate: Commodities and Consumption in World History, 1200-1800 (ARTHIST 102B, ARTHIST 302B, HISTORY 202B, HISTORY 302B)

Many of the basic commodities that we consider staples of everyday life became part of an increasingly interconnected world of trade, goods, and consumption between 1200 and 1800. This seminar offers an introduction to the material culture of the late medieval and early modern world, with an emphasis on the role of European trade and empires in these developments. We will examine recent work on the circulation, use, and consumption of things, starting with the age of the medieval merchant, and followed by the era of the Columbian exchange in the Americas that was also the world of the Renaissance collector, the Ottoman patron, and the Ming connoisseur. This seminar will explore the material horizons of an increasingly interconnected world, with the rise of the Dutch East India Company and other trading societies, and the emergence of the Atlantic economy. It concludes by exploring classic debates about the "birth" of consumer society in the eighteenth century. How did the meaning of things and people's relationships to them change over these centuries? What can we learn about the past by studying things? Graduate students who wish to take a two-quarter graduate research seminar need to enroll in 402B in fall and 430 in winter.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4-5
Instructors: Findlen, P. (PI)
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