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Dishes of Coffee and Sack Triumphant: Intoxicants in Early Modern Dialogue

Fri, April 1, 5:30 to 7:00pm, Park Plaza, Floor: Fourth Floor, Tremont Room


Dialogue – work written in the form of a conversation – epitomizes sociability. This paper looks at the role and representation of old and new world intoxicants in this genre, both as commodities that we see oiling, or disrupting, the mechanics of communication and as anthropomorphized speakers in their own rights in a sub-set of dialogues featuring the usually rivalrous interactions between various intoxicants (such as sack, beer, tobacco, wine), a sub-genre that includes texts such as A Dialogue Between Sacke and Six (1641), Gallobelgicus’ Wine, Beere, Ale, And Tobacco Contending for Superiority (2nd edition, 1630), and A witty dialogue between Roast Beef, Mince-Pye, and Plumb Pottage […] with the Verdict of Strong-Beer (1668). In the process, the use and depiction of these products touch on issues of social status, national identity, gender, politics, manners, and health, giving insight into commonly held assumptions about these commodities, but also the contestation of those beliefs.