HIST 354: History of Coffee and Cigarettes
MW 1:20 p.m., Alumni Hall 109
Robert Nemes, Associate Professor of History
Course description: How did Arabian coffee and American tobacco become global vices? How has the use and meaning of these products changed over time? Why are so many people drawn — and addicted — to caffeine and nicotine? Using primary sources (letters, advertisements, and government reports) alongside recent scholarship, we examine the long history of coffee and cigarettes. Readings and discussions range from 16th-century Turkish coffeehouses to 21st-century Starbucks, and from the prohibition by King James I on tobacco to contemporary debates on secondhand smoke. With “globalization” as a major theme, we critically address issues at the heart of Colgate’s new Global Engagements core curriculum requirement.
Texts: Bennett Weinberg and Bonnie Bealer,
The World of Caffeine; Iain Gately, Tobacco; Ralph Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses; Marcy Norton, Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures; Taylor Clark, Starbucked
On the assignment list: The Coffeehouse Detective — visit a place on campus or in town where people go for coffee. Wait, watch, and think. Then write 500 words about some aspect of this experience. Act like a sociologist and study the customers. Who drinks coffee here? What are the most popular drinks? Or, think like an architect: Is the space set up for people to linger — or do people leave quickly? Other hats you might try on: a coffeehouse economist, chemist, or poet.
Special activities: In-class discussion with Johny Chaklader ’03 and Michael Tringali ’04, founders of a sustainable development coffee and tea company; watch
Mad Men TV show; trip to an Ithaca or Utica café
Live and learn
In January, students had the opportunity to shadow alumni at work through A Day in the Life, organized by the Center for Career Services. Samuel Robinson ’12, who has participated in the program for the past three years, reports:
I had the pleasure of spending a week at Cahn Capital Corp., a New York City–based boutique investment bank run by founder and president Stewart Cahn ’61. Mr. Cahn graduated with an MBA degree from Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Business in finance and has more than 40 years of experience in investment banking.
On my first day, I was given a desk and folder of research. I spent the morning reading about six different companies seeking capital in fields ranging from biotech to green technology to Internet social media. I discussed the positive and negative aspects of each company and learned the history of each project by talking with different team members. I attended meetings with prospective clients and observed the firm’s evaluation process. I also contributed by asking questions and voicing my opinions.
I learned how investment banking firms like Cahn Capital operate and select corporate clients for structuring and placing capital to assist in their growth. Without the program and the efforts of alumni like Mr. Cahn, I would not have as clear of a perspective of the financial world or my career options upon graduating.
Photo: Robinson with his Day in the Life host Stewart Cahn ’61 (left) and Fred Miller, who is Cahn’s business partner as well as the father of Greg Miller ’92 and Amy Miller-Friedman ’96.
For more on A Day in the Life, read what Yvett Sosa ’12 wrote about her experience observing plastic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Sherwyn ’78 by clicking here.