Jan 26, 2023
Dr. Lauren Matz, professor of English, recently published a peer-reviewed article, “Tea and Temperance in Charles Dickens’s 'Hard Times.'” (pp. 115-126 in "Semiotics 2020/2021: Signs of Ambiguity and Uncertainty", ed. Farouk Y. Seif, Yearbook of the Semiotic Society of America, Charlottesville, VA: Philosophy Documentation Center, 2022.)
The article is based on a paper she presented at the Semiotic Society of America’s 2021 virtual conference. In his 10th novel, "Hard Times" (1854), Dickens chose to feature tea, alcohol, and their contemporary cultural valences at pivotal moments when characters reveal their alignment with the values of self-interest or with the values of community, imagination, and love.
Dickens viewed the 19th century temperance movement, which attempted to replace beer with hot tea as the beverage of working-class conviviality, as stingy, self-righteous, and an insult to the working classes.