Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow in the Humanities
2011—2012 Forum on Adaptations
Consuming the World: The Rhetoric of Commodities in Eighteenth-Century Britain
This project asks how eighteenth-century British writers adapted to a society increasingly shaped by the presence and pursuit of commodities. I use "commodities" to represent consumer goods, including personal accessories, decorative objects, even pets – the types of goods constantly proliferating during this period. While recent scholarship has explored the rise of consumer culture in the eighteenth century, I propose examining how newly accessible and familiar commodities shape the literary tropes available to period writers such as Daniel Defoe, Eliza Haywood, Joseph Addison, Jonathan Swift, James Thomson, and Oliver Goldsmith. In other words, this project suggests that when commodities are incorporated figuratively into a text, their presence demonstrates the significant attempts of eighteenth-century writers to come to terms with their ever-more material culture.