HIS 1: Introduction to History

The consumption and production of stimulants and depressants shape many aspects of modern life. This class uses alcohol, coffee, and sugar (along with stronger substances) to introduce students to history as a method of inquiry.

Faculty

Ian Campbell

Units

4

Prerequisites

None

Quarters

Spring Quarter 2017

Description

Most people’s lives are structured by a morning cup of coffee or tea, while the rush of a sugary snack keeps us going later in the day.  In moments of stress and exhaustion (or simply at the end of a working day), it’s not uncommon to hear ice cubes rattle in a cocktail glass, or a beer bottle open, with the refrain that it’s “5:00 somewhere.”

The way that we consume stimulants and depressants tells us a lot about how we live in the modern world, and how we have gotten to be where we are.  The way that these things are produced and distributed adds further complexity to the story.

So this class uses alcohol, coffee, and sugar (along with stronger substances) to introduce students to history as a method of inquiry.  In lectures, students will learn about how consumption patterns shaped modern human history – for example, the close relationship between sugar and the Industrial Revolution, or between vodka and the rise of Soviet power.  In parallel with that, they will learn different historical methodologies.  The methods of analysis they will learn are useful both in later undergraduate history classes and in the outside work.