Centre Term                                                                                        Beau Weston  

January 2007                                                                                       C447. (x8789)

FRS 154                                  CafŽs and Public Life                       238-7580 (h)



The cafŽ has long been a storied place for creating public life, from convivial social groups to intellectual salons to revolutionary cells.  We will study the cafŽ is a Ňthird placeÓ – not home, not work – where people from different social groups can meet and mix.  Caffeine, especially in coffee, tea, and chocolate, has fueled a modern public sphere that promotes hard work and clear thinking.  We will make several field trips to different kinds of cafŽs to see for ourselves how they can be incubators of public life, and to actively create critical discourse ourselves by talking to cafŽ regulars.



Ray Oldenberg, The Great Good Place
Markman Ellis, The Coffee-House:  A Cultural History

JŸrgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere

Chapters from Bennett Weinberg and Bonnie Bealer, The World of Caffeine

Chapters from Bryant Simon's forthcoming social history of Starbucks

A draft article by Centre professor John Kincade, "Rejecting the Coffee House:  Samuel Johnson and Literary Professionalism"



Caffeine in History quiz (15%).  Read Part One, "Caffeine in History" (chs. 1 – 3) of Weinberg and Bealer's The World of Caffeine. Two copies of the book, and two copies of the chapters, will be on library reserve.  When you have read the assignment, open the quiz in WebCT called "Caffeine in History."  You will have 30 minutes to complete it, so be sure to start no later than 8:30 p.m. to be done by the 9 p.m. deadline.  Write your answer in Word, save it, paste the answer into the test space, save it again, then submit.


Coffee house sociability quiz (15%).  30-minute WebCT quiz, based on chs. 3 – 12 of Ellis, the Kincade article, and class discussion.  Same procedure as in the first test.


Comparative Third Place quiz (15%). 30-minute WebCT quiz, based on Part II of The Great Good Place. Same procedure as in the first test.


Habermas quiz (15%). 60-minute WebCT quiz, based on our readings and discussion of Habermas. Same procedure as in the first test. 


Ethnographic Paper (20%): Go to a Louisville cafŽ in a car group.  Write a detailed description of what the place is like, what kinds of people use it, and what kind of public life they create. Interview a patron or two about how they use the cafŽ (you may interview different people than your groupmates do). Write an individual paper, 5 – 8 pp., in Microsoft Word format or its equivalent and submit it through WebCT.


Participation (20%).  This is a seminar.  Join in.