Eighteenth-century engraving of a hookah, or Indian bubble-pipe. Wellcome Library, London (CC BY 4.0).

Seminar Room A, Research Department, V&A
Friday 21 April-Saturday 22 April 2017

Intoxicants were an omnipresent feature of European imperial and commercial expansion during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This is as true for ‘old world’ commodities like beers, wines, and fortified liquors as it was for ‘new’ comestibles like tobacco, caffeine, cocoas, and opiates. But while the commercial, fiscal, and political importance of intoxicants are relatively well studied, much less is known of their medical, cultural, social, and material ramifications. As importantly, the excellent work that has been done in these areas has tended to be geographically focused on Europe, the southern or northern Americas, or on European-Asian relations, rather than considering the transatlantic and south Asian worlds as concurrent and developing spheres of cultural interaction.

The workshop, to be held over two consecutive years at the Victoria and Albert Museum (April 2017) and the Beinecke Library at Yale University (April 2018), begins to address these issues. Colleagues from various disciplines and with diverse geographical expertise will present papers on the theme of intoxicants and their manifold uses. Speakers will centre their discussion of intoxicants on a particular space (e.g. a physic garden, ship, coffeehouse, domestic interior, city, sea, plantation, etc), and will use a particular artefact or archive as their discussion’s starting point.

Friday 21 April

11:00–11:30 Angela McShane (V&A/Sheffield), Phil Withington (Sheffield), and Kathryn James (Beinecke, Yale): Welcome and Introductions

11:30–12:30 Emma Spary (Cambridge): All the World’s A Stage: Opium and the Domestication of Otherness in France around 1700. Respondent: Phil Withington (Sheffield)

12:30–13:00 Lunch in Seminar Room A

13:00–14:00 Philip J. Stern (Duke): Fortified Wine: The Ambivalent Life of Alcohol in Early English India. Respondent: Nuala Zahedieh (Edinburgh)

14:00–15:00 Cynthia Roman (Lewis Walpole Library): Satirizing Smoking Clubs: Anglicizing Tobacco in the Eighteenth Century. Respondent: Angela McShane (V&A/Sheffield)

15:00–16:30 Intoxicants and Images, led by Zorian Clayton (Word and Image Department) and Samantha Dreyer (Volunteer)

16:00 Tea and Coffee

16:30 Tube: South Kensington to Temple

17:00–18:00 Intoxicants/Johnson Themed Walk to Dr Johnson’s House

18:00–19:00 James Caudle (Independent): How Drunk was Boswell when Boswell was Drunk? A ‘Social History of Ideas’ Approach to James Boswell’s Intoxications. Respondent: Kate Smith (Birmingham)

19:00–19:30 Celine Luppo McDaid (Donald Hyde Curator of Dr Johnson’s House): The Material Culture of Intoxication at Dr Johnson’s House

19:45–21:00 Drinks and Buffet Dinner

Saturday 22 April

10:15–11:15 Kathryn James (Beinecke): ‘Great Improvement in Pots and Bottle’: Richard Bradley (1674-1732), Intoxicants, and the Garden in Print. Respondent: Benjamin Breen (UC Santa Cruz)

11:15–12:15 Lauren Working (Liverpool): ‘These seedes, which yet vnpolisht were’: Tobacco and the Social Life of Conquest in Early Seventeenth-Century London. Respondent: Alex Taylor (Sheffield)

12:15–13.15 Intoxicants Walk in the Galleries, led by Angela McShane (V&A) and Madeleine Warren (Volunteer)

1:15–15:00 Lunch and Discussion