If it’s Friday night, it must mean…more studying!
Tonight, I spent a bit of time reviewing the “rich media” portion of the CCL pre-reading. Here, Profs. Boulding and O’Driscoll have provided a compilation of videos and interactive tools to augment the cultural and anthropological readings. Specifically, the videos focus on two areas: the research of Dr. Jared Diamond on the development and collapse of civilizations, and the two works by Tom Standage on the role of food and drink throughout history.
Starting off, I must admit the watching the videos about the role of food and drink throughout history captured my attention far more than the talk of the rise/fall of civilizations. I say this not to denigrate Dr. Diamond’s work, which is substantial across several scholarly fields, but rather to highlight one of the things that has always held me back academically: the ability to make the material ‘real’.
Even though math is somewhat abstract, I can ‘feel’ it through writing out my work, finding solutions to problems, etc. Philosophy and Economics are abstract, but can be made more ‘real’ by applying the thought processes to real world problems. But cultural anthropology has always been difficult for me, as the observations of the past tend not to generate additional thought I apply on a daily basis. At best, I’ve maintained this knowledge so I can yell out intelligent sounding phrases while watching “Jeopardy!”
However, as anyone who has seen my waistline can attest, I’ve never had a problem with the idea of food or drink! The common, insightful nature of Mr. Standage’s works hold my attention in ways that previous history/sociology/anthropology classes have never done. Watching the videos, you can tell that the author spent a considerable amount of time in both researching the material and in telling a compelling story. As I wrote in my ‘6 Glasses‘ reviews, I cannot wait for the opportunity to meet Mr. Standage and discuss his works, and maybe even down a pint or two.
The videos add a whole other dimension to the pre reading, can't wait to get started on them. Going through all of this I can't help but notice one fact, this is very different from my undergraduate experience.