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ENGL 3164 History and Literature of Georgian Britain

Instructor Contact:

Krystal McMillen

Email: Krystal.McMillen@Colorado.EDU

Course Description:

This is a course with a historical context. Over the course of the semester we will collaborate to develop a context that focuses on the Georgian Era simultaneous to developing a cultural context which focuses on the role of consumption and the role of food in the lives of human beings. Carole Counihan speaks of food as, “Not only … a medium for gender definitions, but … also linked to overall social hierarchies and power relations.” She continues that, “access to food might be called the most basic human right, yet with the development of capitalism and its handmaidens of colonialism, imperialism, and food commodifications, access to food has become a key measure of power and powerlessness.”  From philosophers such as Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin to contemporary food advocates such as Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan, for centuries, it appears, food has provided, well, food for thought.

Yet, Counihan’s articulation of food establishes that the adage “you are what you eat” shatters the boundaries of mere nutrition.  Capitalism, colonialism, imperialism: how do the demands for food and the desires of the palate shape the world and global exchange, and how, in the burgeoning moments of Western Colonialism and Imperialism did food influence the political sphere?  How did perceptions of nutrition, of digestion, and of toxicity influence diet and cultural understandings in the eighteenth century?

In this course, we will read a variety of canonical eighteenth-century texts with an historical and theoretical eye for eating, appetite, and consumption to answer some of the larger questions raised by issues of edibles in this era.  We will not focus exclusively on food, yet as a general theme this course will take particular interest in the questions food might raise in understanding eighteenth-century culture and literature.


  •  Gain an initial exposure to a selection of works from the Georgian period
  •  Gain an electronic literacy that includes the ability to utilize a public blog site, embed hyperlinks into electronic documents, create and upload five minute videos to our course site, and utilize tags and categories to organize blog documents
  •  Work on developing a foundational vocabulary of literary terms and concepts.
  •  Recognize differences in genres, as well as some of the differences and developments in genres over time.
  •  Learn to apply techniques of close reading to eighteenth century works in order to engage with them on multiple analytical levels.
  •  Learn to distil the breadth of class discussion and literary musing into concise, focused, arguments regarding the texts and the themes of the class.
  •  Contribute towards a collaborative in class and online learning environment.

Required Course Materials:

Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe

Smollett, Tobias: Humphry Clinker

Equiano, Olaudah: The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano

Prince, Mary: The History of Mary Prince

Austen, Northanger Abbey

Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

Goldsmith, She Stoops To Conquer & Other Comedies

Optional: Broadview Anthology Of British Literature


The grading scheme will break down as follows:

  •  Weekly Posts: 25%
  •  Discussion Leader Assignment: 10%
  •  Historical Encyclopedia Entry 1: 10%
  •  Historical Encyclopedia Entry 2: 15%
  •  Final Paper/Project: 25%
  •  Final Exam: 15%

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