Beyond Cultural Borders of Classic Modern British Culture: The Cultural Institutions of Tea, Coffee and Chocolate and the Literature  Cover Image
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Beyond Cultural Borders of Classic Modern British Culture: The Cultural Institutions of Tea, Coffee and Chocolate and the Literature
Beyond Cultural Borders of Classic Modern British Culture: The Cultural Institutions of Tea, Coffee and Chocolate and the Literature

Author(s): Mihaela Irimia
Subject(s): Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay
Published by: Institutul de Cercetări Socio-Umane Gheorghe Şincai al Academiei Române
Keywords: public sphere; opening; alterity; tea; coffee; cocoa; chocolate; card playing; conversation; newspaper; entertaining.

Summary/Abstract: Classic Modernity in my own critical vocabulary (also known as the Enlightenment) is a time of symbolic opening to the world, of identity being faced with otherness and self-sufficient culture(s) entertaining an ever more sustained dialogue with change. Connate with the birth of the public sphere, it is a time of intense transformation in the private – public dynamics of society. The particular example of British material culture is an exciting case in point. The 1700s see the settlement of fundamental modern institutions, not least of which the newspaper, the periodical and associated forms of socio-cultural communication. To go hand in had with these, protocols of public consumption including tea, coffee and chocolate in specialized places favouring wide(r) exchanges (equally of material and cultural worth) leave their imprint on our commonly shared cultural identity in the West. This paper looks at the symbolic role played by these institutions and identifies landmarks of their presence on the cultural map of Britishness. While it provides information about some of their characteristics, it focuses mainly on their function(ing) as identitary badges and brings together other forms of sociability, e.g. clubbability, amusing literature, conversation, walks, gossip and amusing reading. All this is subsumed to the overall civilizing process of Classic Modernity.

  • Issue Year: 2011
  • Issue No: 14
  • Page Range: 5-26
  • Page Count: 22
  • Language: English