Perhaps the most significant theme in world history over the past half-millennium has been an ever-increasing and dynamic (and often combative) interaction between regions and cultures around the world. While this story often focuses upon human interaction, commodities play an essential role in transforming global communities as well. With that complexity in mind, students will read three historical works focusing upon edible commodities—Coe and Coe’s The True History of Chocolate, Koeppel’s Banana, and Kurlansky’s Cod—and write an essay comparing and contrasting the impact and transformation of each of the three goods describe in them. Papers will also connect the readings and important developments or events that affected the commodities to lecture material presented in class sessions. After no more than a paragraph per book describing the authors’ thesis and evidence, the compare/contrast essay will explore the ways in which chocolate, bananas, and cod played integral roles in the transformation of global history since the 1500s, demonstrating both the unique impacts and shared influence of all three popular foodstuffs, the role they played in reinventing global palates, and connections between each and broader themes of the course.
Any and all information taken from assigned readings, whether directly quoted or simply referred to, must be properly cited with page numbers. Parenthetical MLA-style citations will suffice, such as: (Kurlansky, 133). Unless non-required sources are included, a works-cited page is not necessary, nor is a cover page. Professionalism is important—use third person in formal papers, not first person. Papers must be approximately 8-10 pages long, double-spaced, and use one inch margins on all sides and either Times New Roman or Arial 12 point font. The compare/contrast paper must be submitted during the class period on Friday, August 9 and will not be accepted late for any reason. Drafts and papers turned in early are always welcome. Points will be earned for the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the paper, as well as creativity and critical insight. Proper essay structure, grammar, spelling, and other stylistic aspects will also be taken into account.