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Title: The cultural history of exotic fruits in England 1650-1820
Author: Cole, E. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis examines the place of fruit in early-modern English culture and society, and in particular as a dimension of its response to the West Indian environment. Only a small minority encountered exotic fruit in this period. But in patterns of attraction and resistance to these immigrants from the colonial periphery we may find important markers for wider kinds of cultural change. The first section of this study, entitled ‘Exotic Fruits and the English Mind’, considers the impact of tropical fruits upon the English psyche. In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), John Locke, despite having no first hand knowledge of the New World and its fruit, chose the pineapple as his symbol for a thing which could only be known through direct sense experience. Locke exemplifies how tropical fruit were first naturalised within England in its intellectual life. The second chapter, ‘Exotic Fruits and the English Body’, assesses the culinary, dietary and medical discourses which shaped patterns of response to exotic fruit as objects of actual consumption. ‘Exotic Fruits in English Soil’ next eliminates how the cultivation of tropical fruit became an issue for horticulture and natural history in England. ‘The Rise and Fall of Exotic Fruit in England’ finally examines the nineteenth-century climax of the production of tropical fruits with the British Isles, an era in which the pineapple became almost a national symbol. Through the study of the English response to exotic fruit we may explore how metropolitan culture responded to the new worlds opened up by trade and colonization. England’s transformation form an insular, inward-looking nation to a sophisticated, outward-looking world power is mirrored through the cultivation and consumption of exotic fruits, and in particular through the pineapple fetish. To paraphrase Claude Lévi-Strauss, fruit are good to think about.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available