Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session
This class considers the intersection of science and technology with agriculture and food production systems in the 20th century. A basic premise is that, when things become industrialized and rationalized, they follow particular historical patterns that tend to play themselves out over and over in different locations. Another premise, however, is that local circumstances never quite fit the patterns that have evolved, and historians must pay close attention to the differences between the micro and the macro, the universal and the particular, the state and the farmer. We attempt to understand these things by reading historical and anthropological essays on the relation between rural life, scientific institutions, technological and managerial innovations, agricultural production, and politics in America and the third world.
Students are required to attend all classes and be prepared to discuss the assigned readings. Students take turns leading the weekly discussions. Although there are no exams, each student must write either an original research paper on a topic of interest to the student or a bibliographic essay on a set of outside readings.