London coffee houses in the 17th and 18th c.

Today I received a confirmation about which text I’ll be working with in this year’s anthology project. My text is London Coffee Houses in the 17th and 18th c. by Ria Dunn. It is an essay about the history of the coffee houses and how it shaped our social, political and literary culture to what it is today.

When I first read the essay I was completely intrigued by the history. I had no idea about the things that coffee houses represented in the past. I feel like I’ve learned so much just by reading that short essay! I can’t wait to research more about those moments in history. I want to do visual research on the 17th and 18th century coffee houses and find some cool old pictures. I also want to find what the broadsheets and papers looked like back then.

The most interesting part of the essay to me is how the coffee houses worked as a non-hierarchical social place where people’s rank didn’t matter. People from different social ranks exchanged news and talked about current issues with each other. And that was the seed of British democracy. I think it is amazing to think that it is coffee that brought those people together.

Another interesting part of the essay that I find just as intriguing is the impact that coffee houses had on literary culture and journalism. Especially as a publishing student, I think it is amazing how news circulated in coffee houses first through verbal exchange and then printed in single-sheet publications independently by a coffee house.

I think I want to use one of the aspects above (anti-hierarchy or developing journalism) as the core of my visual response and research and build layers around it. My initial idea is to use collaging to create a layered composition from the material that I find.

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