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18th Century Orientalism: East Indies, West Indies

ENGL 540.401


Economic historians have documented the massive amounts of silver that flowed from Mexican and Peruvian mines to China in the early modern period (1500-1800). The bullion shortages in England; Britain’s gain of the Spanish monopoly on the transatlantic slave trade; the consolidation of the East India Company and the wars with the Dutch in southeast Asia; the rise of British joint-stock companies with overseas investments: these are some of the key economic developments of the early eighteenth century that link the East Indies with the West Indies, from China to Peru. This course will track key nodes along the global silver flows in writings on trade, mercantilism, luxury and consumption, New World and Eastern travel, and slavery. Readings spanning the course of the eighteenth century will include plays by (William) Davenant, Dryden, Rowe, Gay, Lillo, Colman the Younger, Cumberland; novels by Behn, Graffigny, Defoe; essays by (Charles) Davenant, Hanway, Hume, Smith, and Raynal.


Undergraduates need to fill out a permit form and receive the approval of the Graduate Chair, their advisor, and the professor for all 500-level courses.

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