Extraordinary Histories of Ordinary Things

Portland City Hall Rum Room, ca. 1930

In recent years, historians have cultivated a fresh and imaginative new genre: studies that trace broad historical narratives through the stories of individual, seemingly-small objects, ideas, or phenomenon.

The new Maine Historical Society book discussion group–starting in February, 2012–will examine four particularly interesting examples: studies of the evolution of artificial light; how the lowly codfish changed the world; the toothpick as a paradigm for American manufacturing; and the influence of rum on the development of the New World.

Readings include: Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light by Jane Brox; Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, by Mark Kurlansky; The Toothpick by Henry Petroski; and And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis. Additional short readings for each session will be sent to each registrant, or are available online.

The particulars:

WHEN: Tuesdays, 2/28, 3/27, 4/24, and 5/22 @ 7PM
WHERE: MHS Lecture Hall
FEE: $10 Members/$20 Non-members
BOOKS: Offered at $48 package discount (20% off retail) through MHS Store (or get them on your own); supplemental readings provided or available online
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Friday, January 27

Space is limited to 30 and registration is required. To register, download the Book Group Registration Flyer.

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