For those of you who teach some environmental history or history of technology alongside history of science, I can vouch for "The Miracle of the Can" as a great tool to generate discussion right around Thanksgiving. Seasons be damned!
For more Thanksgiving scholarly fun, see Neil Prendergast's recent Environmental History article on "Raising the Thanksgiving Turkey."
|Talking Turkey the Somewhat-Old-Fashioned Way...|
And a final tid-bit, from the department of applied science: Butterball University!
Hey thanks for the shout-out! I would love to read any thoughts on my little essay that AmericanScience readers might have.
This the comment I just left over at Anna's original post:
"Anna: This is a terrific essay and it points to such a fascinating---if campy---moment. Imagining the can as an extension of the protective skins on all fruits is actually rather fascinating. The idea isn't necessarily that cycles will go away: they will just become soooo much longer! I don't know that the film-makers are thinking about this. But your post got me thinking about it. The can age and the nuclear age share this trait: they de-emphasize seasons and make other, longer cycles much more important to us and to the rest of the natural world.
I noticed two other things this last time I watched "The Miracle of the Can." First: the film-makers implicitly argue that the canneries will displace women from the productive process. You can see them imagining a future where women no longer do farm labor. Hired men and machines will take their place.
Second: the film-makers create a false past of plenty---of too much food always going to waste. That's fascinating because it is the industrialization of food, which the can participates in, that actually brings about that moment of plenty in mid-century America."
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