HST238: Intoxicants in Early Modern England

20 credits (semester 2)

Module Leader: Professor Phil Withington



Pass in at least two Level One History Units HST112-120.


Module Summary

The module looks at the uses and abuses of intoxicants in England during the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This includes ‘old world’ intoxicants, such as wine, beer, and ale, as well as ‘new world’ commodities like tobacco, chocolate, coffee, and tea. The module introduces students to the economy of intoxication, and the importance of intoxicants to domestic trade and global expansion; to the role of intoxicants in medical practices; to the places, spaces, rituals, and conventions of consumption; and to importance of intoxicants to the early modern state and political culture.


Module Aims

The primary aim of the module is to introduce students to the central and largely neglected role that intoxicants played in early modern societies. On successful completion of the module students will have gained a basic understanding of the different kinds of intoxicant produced, trafficked and consumed in this period. They will appreciate the importance of intoxicants to local, national, and global economies; to medical practices and conceptions of the body; to sociability and social identities; and to early modern government and political culture. They will be familiar with the kinds of sources we can use to study intoxicants. And they will have an appreciation of change over time.


Teaching and Assessment

Lectures provide an efficient way of providing information, encouraging ideas and guiding students’ private study. They will be used to outline key chronological, geographical and theoretical themes. Seminars will provide opportunities for students to present their ideas and interpretations to the wider group, to analyse a range of primary sources, and to work cooperatively in groups.

Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level2


Selected Reading

  • To Follow.


Intended Learning Outcomes
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