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13 Things 2009

13 Things 2008

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology

Search Brown



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

"To alcohol! The cause of--and solution to--all life's problems!"
"Alright, brain, I don't like you and you don't like me--so let's just do this and I'll get back to killing you with beer."
"I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
--Homer J. Simpson

Beer is the most symbolic and (arguably) most dangerous of beverages. It is inextricably bound up with coming-of-age and with masculinity in American culture. People destroy their lives and deform their bodies in pursuit of its numbing euphoria. Business establishments and social organizations are founded and thrive completely around beer-related activities. The U.S. government's sole attempt to remove beer from American culture via an across-the-board alcohol ban was a resounding failure. Come with me as I explore this phenomenon through both scholarly and hands-on research. Following are some topics I am thinking of including in my project; this list, of course, is subject to change. (NOTE: I am over 21. So are all of my ‘test subjects’.)

A brief history of beer – from ancient Sumeria to Rome to the Dark Ages to the Renaissance to the Gilded Age to the Prohibition to modern times. Emphasis on “brief.” This could take up my whole project if I let it.

Beer and geography – I will examine region’s effect on beer, meaning that I will research the types of beer produced in certain regions and try to draw a connection; also, I will examine beer’s effect on region, meaning I’ll compare historically beer-producing regions as a whole to historically wine-producing regions and historically liquor-producing regions and attempt to draw a conclusion from this.

Beer as:
-Scientific Process – A summary of the fermentation process and also the process by which people become inebriated
-Social tool (male bonding, the keg as party centerpiece, “liquid courage”)
-Self-medication, in both its extreme and casual forms
-Rite of Passage – the adolescent’s particular beer obsession

Adventures In Beer (henceforth AIB): the section of my project involving hands-on research. All items on this list will be rigorously photo-documented, annotated, and narrated.
-Beer brewing: In which I attempt to create beer myself using a home brewery kit. Success not guaranteed.
-Beer brewery field trip
-Bars—a brief study on different beer-based establishments
-Beer sampling—a panel of “judges,” by which I mean my fellow college students, will drink a small amount of each of a variety of different beers; I will collect our observations.
-Beer-drinking games: Beer-Pong, quarters, flip-cup, etc.
-Beer as cooking ingredient: Recently, my parents gave me some “beer bread mix” as a present. A required ingredient was one bottle of beer. I call this worth documenting.

Beer in popular culture
-The Simpsons—“Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment”
-Family Guy—“Wasted Talent”
-Freaks and Geeks—“Beers and Weirs”
-Beer ad campaigns—“Man Law,” “Real Men of Genius,” “And Twins,” etc.