Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Withdrawn Module: Luxury and Pleasure, Cultures of Consumption 1650 to the Present (HI394)

fan.bmpPlease note that this module was available
until 2007, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.

Tutor: Professor Maxine Berg

Globalization and Anti-Globalization Movements - how can History help us to understand where these came from? What are the origins of our global consumer society, and its current inequalities? Do fashion labels and shopping have a history?

This final-year undergraduate Advanced Option module will discuss key issues of consumer society now, and the social and anthropological theories which help us to understand consumer aspirations. It will relate this discussion to a history of rise of consumer society from the first global age up to the present.

Students will study the European discovery of the Orient as well as exotic commodities brought to Europe - coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, silk, porcelain, and others. We will learn of consumer passions among both peasants and princes for clothes, new foods and drink, furnishings and housing, flowers and gardens. Key themes will include the debate on luxury and the role of gender and identity in consumer practices. We will investigate advertising, fashion and shopping in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Students will follow the rise of mass consumption and lifestyle through the history of the department store and brand labels. Consumerism is also politics, inequalities and globalization, and students will discuss the history of anti-consumerist and anti-globalization movements. Module material will include paintings, novels, poetry and film as well as diaries, wills, letters, journalism and advertisements.