London Coffeehouses and Modernity

Spring 2017

FRPG 2087
Instructor:  Juraj Kittler
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. to 2:10 p.m.
This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.

The culture of the early 1700s London coffeehouses is often seen as the spark that kindled the advent of modern democracy. The censorship of the press in England expired in 1695 and suddenly London was flooded with newspapers and pamphlets that openly scrutinized practically all aspects of public life. They were read and discussed in countless coffeehouses that soon became social institutions in their own right. Yet this idealized world of London coffeehouses also had another, much darker side. The famous British writer Daniel Defoe, who was a frequent coffeehouse patron, described them as places of scandal and depravity, infested with deception and the manipulation of information for commercial gain. Relying mainly on the early 1700s newspaper articles, essays, and pamphlets, each of you will be challenged to mentally recreate the atmosphere of London at the dawn of what we call the Enlightenment era. Your research will rely on digitized materials from historical databases and your findings will be presented in digital form on a website created specifically for this class–contributing to the St. Lawrence’s Digital Humanities project.

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