Undergraduate Teaching

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Still Life: Tea Set, about 1781-83, oil on canvas, 14 7/8 x 20 5/16 in. The Getty Museum.

“The World of Goods”: Consumer Cultures 1750 -1950

“We live surrounded by things. A typical middle-class North American family owns hundreds of items of clothing, many of which never make it out of the closet. Of course, people have always had things, and have used them not only for survival, but for ritual, display, and fun. Over the last three hundred years, however, the purchase, circulation, use, and disposal of things – in short, consumption – has become a defining feature of our lives.  Our identities, politics, economy, and environment are all tied to what and how we consume. This course will examine how we become a world of consumers. Using material objects, historical documents, and secondary sources, this course will examine consumer practices in the Anglo-Atlantic world to look at consumption in a fresh light. Topics include the eighteenth-century ‘consumer revolution’, the development of the department store, consumer politics and protest, advertising, industrialization, and globalization as well as explorations of the relationship of consumerism to gender, ethnicity, race, and social class. “