The art of tea: late Victorian visual culture and the normalization of an international national icon

Beddoes, Emalee (2014). The art of tea: late Victorian visual culture and the normalization of an international national icon. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.

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The association between tea and Britishness is a long established concept which has received considerable scholarly and popular attention. How this association came to be normalised as part of a national consciousness, however, has not. This thesis argues that the idea of tea as an icon of Britishness was assimilated as a historical process through the visual and material dissemination of ideology. Focusing on the visual and material culture of tea in Britain in the period between 1850 and 1900, it explores how tea was invested with numerous identities and contradictory ideologies of work and rest; luxury and necessity; and of the domestic, industrial and imperial simultaneously. These ideologies were mediated through material culture which shaped the behaviours of the tea table and the reception of foreign products, and through the visual language of tea which it communicated and disseminated ideological meanings. Looking specifically to the second half of the nineteenth century, when the tea trade was at its most complex, this thesis considers how a proliferation of images of tea in painting and advertising during this period functioned as agents of change in the social codification of Empire that mediate how tea and Britishness were understood.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR


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