top of page

Points Bibliography: Histories of Alcohol and Tobacco in the U.S. and Canada

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen. They were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

From Farm to Firm: Canadian Tobacco c. 1860-1950

Author: McQuarrie, Jonathan Robert

Abstract: This dissertation examines the transformation of Canadian tobacco cultivation from its roots in local markets and personal consumption to a multi-million dollar concern featuring corporate plantations and multi-acre tobacco farms. It focuses on how tools of agricultural modernization— abstraction, expertise, experimentation, fertilization, government policy, land ownership, and marketing associations—produced unanticipated challenges that complicated any linear development of tobacco cultivation. The dissertation places everyday experiences of tobacco cultivation alongside the broader sweep of agricultural modernization to argue that the deployment of the tools of modernization produced new limitations over expert control of the environment and markets. The dissertation considers cultivation in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, and includes moments of rapid expansion, such as the rise of the flue-cured tobacco “New Belt” in Norfolk and Elgin counties during the late 1920s, and instances of gradual failure, like efforts to encourage commercial tobacco in the Okanagan and Sumas Valley regions of B.C. Various farmer organizations and cooperatives feature in the exploration of the responses and initiative of farmers to the evolving requirements of tobacco companies for their raw material. The role of both federal and provincial government officials also receives considerable attention, as they promoted modern, commercial-orientated tobacco cultivation while attempting to remain an intermediary force between farmers and corporations. The records of the federal Tobacco Division and various government investigations collectively demonstrate that this position was not always tenable, as the government would find itself drawn into fierce disputes over farm prices and the monopolistic character of Imperial Tobacco. These disputes illustrate how modernization produced instabilities even as it improved farm revenues. Collectively, this dissertation’s consideration of farm work, environmental change, and markets demonstrate how the possibilities of agricultural innovation produced their own tensions and limitations that are fundamental to understanding the lived experience of capitalism and modernization in rural Canada.

Publication year: 2016

ISBN: 9781339946733

Advisor: Penfold, Steve

Committee members: Radforth, Ian; Sandwell, Ruth

University/institution: University of Toronto

Department: History

Alcoholic Republic/Temperate Empire: Temperance and Imperialism in U.S Literature, 1830-1870

Author: Young, Sarah Elise Franzen

Abstract: This project draws on hemispheric American studies, new historicism, and feminist scholarship to explore connections between the antebellum temperance movement and U.S. imperialism. Employing Amy Kaplan’s concept of “manifest domesticity”, I argue that white female authors used meanings ascribed to male frontier drunkards to argue for their own importance to the imperial enterprise. In Western texts by white women, the white female character becomes a necessary controlling and civilizing force on the frontier. More radically, temperance tropes within these texts also facilitate the creation of a new imagined position for frontier white women beyond the domestic sphere. Throughout, Edward Watts’s application of settler postcolonialism to eighteenth and nineteenth-century U.S. literature informs the analysis, as does work by scholars in hemispheric American studies interested in the contact zones and perpetually shifting borders of the pre-Civil War U.S. The first chapter historicizes the nineteenth century temperance movement. It also defines the theoretical approaches used, including Kaplan’s manifest domesticity and Watts’s settler postcolonialist reading strategy. Chapter two examines William Apess’s autobiography A Son of the Forest alongside Walt Whitman’s Franklin Evans or The Inebriate; A Tale of the Times and argues that even in the apparently “settled” urban east, anxiety about intemperance was fueled by a concomitant anxiety about how completely U.S. whites possessed the land. Chapter three assesses how white women’s temperance stories set on the frontier responded to male-authored frontier narratives, ending with an extended reading of Caroline Kirkland’s A New Home, Who’ll Follow as a settler text. Chapter four takes up The Kansas Emigrants by Lydia Child and Western Border Life: Or What Fanny Hunter Saw and Heard in Kanzas and Missouri to discuss how temperance, women’s rights, and U.S. empire intersected in discussions of the“Bleeding Kansas” conflict. The conclusion argues that western temperance tropes were used to create a “usable past” for late nineteenth century white temperance women.

Publication year: 2016

ISBN: 9781339967783

Advisor: Thompson, Todd N.

Committee members: Heflin, Tanya; Watson, Veronica

University/institution: Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Department: English

1 view

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page