Tuesday, January 5, 2010

History 101, Butter and Little Red Riding Hood, too

I almost didn't look at this article, but I am glad I clicked through to read it. Essentially it is the story of a professor's lecture in History 101 in which real butter was made in the classroom. Little Red Riding Hood makes a guest appearance in the article, too. So here's the link and a quote: Catching More Flies with … Butter? by TRobey in the Cuny Graduate Center Advocate.

As I took back the jar from the last stu­dent and poured out the but­ter­milk I fielded ques­tions. Is this safe to eat? — yes. Are we going to die? — yes. But not from this. Is this the way peo­ple made but­ter in early mod­ern Europe? — yes, although they had other, big­ger ves­sels for agi­tat­ing the cream. Isn’t but­ter what Lit­tle Red Hood was tak­ing to her grand­mother in the sec­ond ver­sion of the story that we read?

Yes. In an instant, the net of ill­ness that had secretly sep­a­rated me from them was gone, and off we went, rac­ing to com­pare the ingre­di­ents of Miss Hood’s bas­ket in each of three ver­sions of the tale, talk­ing about respec­tive value of the food­stuffs in her bas­kets, and how the richer ingre­di­ents in later ver­sions betray the move­ment of fairy tales up the social ranks to the King of France’s own sec­re­tary. I shared the­o­ries about the trans­mis­sion of cul­ture in early mod­ern Europe. Hands bobbed for atten­tion, voices blurted out ques­tions and answers, and I scrib­bled some quick notes on the board.

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