"Put the kettle on! Tea and other hot drinks in British culture and literature from the seventeenth century to the present" with Prof. Dr. Christoph Heyl
Well into the mid-seventeenth century, everybody in England – men, women and children – drank beer. Beer was the standard drink because drinking water was not particularly safe, especially in cities. The transition from beer to hot drinks such as coffee, chocolate and, above all, tea in the British Isles is a remarkable phenomenon. We shall trace this development from its beginnings in the seventeenth century.
The rise of hot drinks was intimately connected with global trade, colonialism, slavery (no hot drinks without sugar, no sugar without slaves) and the opium trade (Chinese tea was exchanged for opium produced in British India). There is an interesting and important connection between coffee and journalism and the development of the public sphere as the earliest newspapers were both written and read in London´s coffee houses. In the eighteenth century, the tea table became a site of middle-class domestic sociability. Hot chocolate was popular as a hangover cure or an aphrodisiac. The etiquette of preparing and taking various drinks was intimately tied to evolving gender roles as well as notions of national identity. Bovril, a beef-based hot drink, was and still is associated with Britishness and muscular masculinity. Horlicks, a malted milk drink, was marketed as a wonder cure for “night starvation”, a medical condition invented for advertising purposes.
We will study a selection of sources (including texts, images and music) related to the cultural and literary history of hot drinks. There will be tasting sessions, i.e. we will prepare and drink some of the hot drinks under discussion.