Friday, August 14, 2009

Lessons Learned in Graduate School

Oftentimes graduate students can become so passionate about their field that we don’t do what journalists or even Phd students always do, go to the source. In an academic paper I published for the University of Toronto, Food Conjures Memory: Making Memory in the Museum, I made some assumptions about British culinary historian Ivan Day. Day contacted me through SoFAB and said:

Dear Zella,

I have read with interest your paper entitled "Food Conjures Memory". I enjoyed your argument and agree with most of your conclusions. However, I feel rather surprised that you should conclude from a brief online resume of a course I offer on sugar and. confectionery, that I am guilty of the following. "By blatantly omitting or silencing any mention of the historical contributions of others, historians and museologists perpetuate the same imperialist ideology that have affected the world for centuries".
My confectionery course lasts two days and though it is a practical session, the imperial aspects of the sugar trade are actually explored in considerable depth. In fact, I am offering a free place on this particular course so that you can see for yourself what it is really about. On the contrary, I curated an exhibition here in the UK at Harewood House 7 years ago that explored the whole issue of the sugar trade in the eighteenth century. I contrasted the excesses of luxury enjoyed by the British patrician classes at the dessert table with the horror and privatization of the lives of the plantation slaves who produced the sugar that graced their exuberant desserts. In one room, an elaborate table setting shared a space with an original copy of a slave purchase ledger that belonged to the Lascelles family who built Harewood House. The Lascelles family owned extensive plantations in Barbados and the luxurious house they built was funded by money made from human misery. We made this very clear in this particular exhibit. I am sorry I do not have your direct email address and have sent this to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in the hope that it gets passed on to you. Good luck with your internship there and I look forward to your reply.

With every best wish,

Ivan Day

Needless to say I learned my lesson and I want to share this lesson with all students out there. GO TO THE SOURCE! Never assume that everyone is part of some evil conspiracy. Lol. When I wrote this paper I was reading some pretty heavy books about food globalization and exploitation. Although, I stand by my argument in my paper I did make the mistake of not contacting Ivan Day directly to ask him what he felt about the sugar trade. But this is the point of Graduate School to learn from your rights and wrongs. So, I would like to make a formal apology to Mr. Day and to thank him for his well wishes even after I made some negative accusations about his work. We sure would love to do something with you in the future at Southern Food & Beverage Museum and I can sit down with you and sweeten you up with pralines, Red Velvet Cake and Bananas Foster! Please find out more about Ivan Day @ http://www.historicfood.com/portal.htm

*Ivan has an international reputation for his research on British and European culinary history. As well as a scholar, broadcaster and writer, he is also a gifted professional cook and confectioner. He is noted particularly for his re-creations of meals and table settings. His work has been exhibited in many museums, including the Paul Getty Research Institute, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of London, Fairfax House, the Bowes Museum and the Rothschild Collection.

2 comments:

Ivan Day said...

Zella is absolutely right. Checking your sources thoroughly is the only way to support your argument in a sound way. Once it is in print, either on paper, or on the net, there are a thousand and one people out there who will want to shoot you down in flames if you get it wrong. However, we all make mistakes - even leading scholars sometimes commit huge errors. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes and move on.

As part of a very wide range of food history activities, I attempt to re-create high status European and British food, often in the form of table settings in Museums. I am working on two exhibits this Fall, one in the Metropolitan in NYC and another at Hillwood in Washington DC. Both tables are dressed in the aristocratic manner of the eighteenth century and include important ceramics - Du Paquier at the MMA and Sèvres at Hillwood. Both are dessert settings and include recreations of elaborate sugar sculpture and table architecture. The MMA table with its Vienna du Paquier ceramics is a recreation of a table for Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria; while the Hillwood table displays Sèvres porcelain which once belonged to Prince Louis Cardinal Rohan, a contemporary of Marie Antoinette. You cannot get more imperial than the Empress of Austria or more high-ranking than a Bourbon prince.

However, neither Maria Theresa, nor Prince Rohan in their lives ever cooked a meal, created a recipe, crafted a sugar table centrepiece. Nor did either of them ever make a ceramic plate or a beautiful biscuit sculpture. They were in fact completely useless drones, their pampered lives only fit for court intrigue and frivolous diversions.

In my opinion the extravagant tables which I recreate do not glorify the food or culture of this aristocratic class. They are a tribute to the anonymous servants, artisans and artists who produced that food and the material culture it spawned. These were people who had extraordinary creative skills and knowledge. It is them for whom I have respect, not for their powerful, but talentless overlords and it is them that I honour when I attempt to revive the forgotten skills they developed.

To use another example, I am the kind of person who believes that the Great Pyramid of Cheops is not a grandiose memorial to the dead Pharaoh who lies beneath it, but a remarkable testimony to the thousands of unfortunate slaves and forgotten craftsmen who built it.

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店經紀,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店工作,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,

,