HoST Fall 2010

Tues/Thurs. starting at 4:00 in Babio 203

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Week of 10/26 and 10/28


Assignment 8

World Agriculture I

and Lucretius V



Male and female modern corn “flowers” (respectively)

For Tuesday:


Read this from 1491, Charles C. Mann’s book, pp. 212-227 [Mayan farming and corn] and Appendices C and D (pp. 399-407).

Mann_1491_Ch6_AppC-D-6.7MBa.pdf  ca.21pp

This one takes a while to load but it does eventually.  I'm not sure why.  If you have problems, email me.


Read this from Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, pp. 15-31. [Corn]

Pollan_Omni-Dilem_Corn-Farm-6.9MB.pdf  15pp


Read over the rest of this web site.


For Thursday:


Read: Lucretius, Book V.   


Here is the pdf form that should be done for next if you want to start thinking about it now: HoST-Fall2010-ProjectForm.pdf


Short: Standard assignment.  Refer to the readings and past readings too if you can.  Cite all sources.  Feel free to read a news story at the bottom too.

Long: Standard ... use an additional source selected from below. Cite all sources.  Feel free also, to use the "optional" sources at the bottom of this page and find a couple more from newspaper searches and the like.  I'd like to see you reading about 20 pages of additional material for the long essay. 

Here are the citations for the regular readings for this week:


Lucretius Carus, Titus, R. E. Latham, and John Godwin. On the Nature of the Universe. Translated by R. E. Latham and with Introduction and Notes by John Godwin. Penguin Classics. New York: Penguin Books, 1994. [Your copy may differ from this.  Cite your copy.]


Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus. New York: Vintage Books, 2006.  This book very well written and fun to read.  It has a more journalistic feel to it than your standard history book.


Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin Press, 2006. This book is more journalistic than history.  It is perhaps the most interesting book I have read this year.  All of you environmentalists may be interested in reading the whole thing in your off time.

Here are the additional sources for the long essay:


-Feel free to use the additional resources from previous classes on Lucretius.


-Blom, Frans Ferdinand. The Conquest of Yucatan. New York,: Cooper Square Publishers, 1971. Blom_Conquest_Yucatan_Landa-excerpts.pdf [3.6MB]  Read ca. 18 pages from this set of excerpts.  The stuff on Bishop Landa is quite interesting as is the Daily Life section. All of it is quite interesting.


-Bragg, Melvyn. "The Aztecs." In In Our Time. London: BBC, 2003. - IOT-Aztecs - Looking behind the myths.mp3 [14.4MB]

-Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Aztec Empire. According to legend, the origins of it lie on a mythical island called Aztlan - "place of the white herons" - in the north of Mexico. From there this nomadic group of Mesoamericans are said to have undertaken a pilgrimage south to the fertile valleys of Central America. In the space of just 200 years, they formed what has been called the largest, and arguably the most ruthless, pre-Hispanic empire in North America which, at its zenith, was to rule over approximately 500 small states, comprising by the 16th century some 6 million people.

Was it military might and intimidation alone that helped the Aztecs extend their power? What part did their complex belief system play in their imperial reach? Their use of human sacrifice has been well documented, but how widespread actually was it? How easily were the Spanish conquistadors able to Christianise this empire? And what legacy did the Aztecs leave behind that lives on in our world today?

With Alan Knight, Professor of the History of Latin America at Oxford University and author of Mexico: From the Beginning to the Spanish Conquest; Adrian Locke, co-curator of the Aztecs exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts; Elizabeth Graham, Senior Lecturer in Mesoamerican Archaeology at University College London.


-Bragg, Melvyn. "The Calendar." In In Our Time, 45 minutes. London: BBC, 2003. IOT_ The Calendar.mp3 [16MB]

     -Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the calendar, which shapes the lives of millions of people. It is an invention that gives meaning to the passing of time and orders our daily existence. It links us to the arcane movements of the heavens and the natural rhythms of the earth. It is both deeply practical and profoundly sacred.

But where does this strange and complex creation come from? Why does the week last seven days but the year twelve months? Who named these concepts and through them shaped our lives so absolutely?

The answers involve Babylonian Astronomers and Hebrew Theologians, Roman Emperors and Catholic Popes. If the calendar is a house built on the shifting sands of time, it has had many architects.

With Robert Poole, Reader in History at St Martin’s College Lancaster and author of Time’s Alteration, Calendar Reform in Early Modern England; Kristen Lippincott, Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich; Peter Watson, Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge University and author of A Terrible Beauty – A History of the People and Ideas that Shaped the Modern Mind.


Bragg, Melvyn. "Carbon." In In Our Time, 45 minutes. London: BBC, 2006. IOT_ Carbon.mp3 [16.8MB]

   -Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Carbon. It forms the basis of all organic life and has the amazing ability to bond with itself and a wide range of other elements, forming nearly 10 million known compounds. It is in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the shampoo we use and the petrol that fuels our cars. Because carbon has the largest range of subtle bonding capabilities, 95% of everything that exists in the universe is made up of carbon atoms that are stuck together.

It is an extraordinary element for many reasons: the carbon-nitrogen cycle provides some of the energy produced by the Sun and the stars; it has the highest melting point of all the elements; and its different forms include one of the softest and one of the hardest substances known.

What gives carbon its great ability to bond with other atoms? What is the significance of the recent discovery of a new carbon molecule - the C60? What role does carbon play in the modern chemistry of nanotechnology? And how should we address the problem of our diminishing carbon energy sources?

With Harry Kroto, Professor of Chemistry at Florida State University; Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University; Ken Teo, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at Cambridge University.




-Here are some notes on the Mayan Calendar along with some trivia about the Aztec calendar and some European calendrical trivia.  This is very mathematical and might not be understandable to those without some experience in non-base-10 number systems.  However, those with some experience in computer programming might find this interesting.   Maya-Numbers-Calendars.htm

Images of Teosinte



Here is the Teosinte plant.  It looks somewhat like a corn plant, but without a tall stalk.



This is the male tassle of the teosinte “corn”.



The teosinte “cob” is quite a bit smaller than a cob of modern corn.

Notice how a tassle is connected to each kernel.  This is the same as for modern corn.



In the news…


Johnson-Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery-NYTimes-10/6/10

and a short response to this article

Chivian-Letter to the Editor-"What is Killing the Bees? Look to the Environment" - NYTimes 10/20/10



Bornstein-Filling the Gap Between Farm and Fair Trade-NYTimes-10/25/10

This essay discusses micro-economics and small farms.

It indirectly relates to our readings this week. 

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