By Professor Emerita Ruth Wallis Herndon, Ph.D.
Four historians, all alumnae of BGSU’s Department of History, made presentations and renewed collegial ties earlier this month at a conference organized by the Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY) and hosted by the University of Guelph in southern Ontario.Continue reading
Dr. James Forse was a member of our department for 44 years and retired in 2010. The department sends our support and love to his family, friends, and former students.
If you wish to share a memory of Dr. Forse with his family, please see this link.
Dr. Forse’s research and teaching focus was on Medieval and Renaissance Europe. He was the author of Art Imitates Business: Commercial and Political Influence in Elizabethan Theatre (Bowling Green State University Press, 1993), and published articles which have appeared in German History, The Journal of Medival History, SRASP, Journal of Popular Culture, and Theatre Survey .
This article is re-posted from Dr. Amílcar Challú‘s personal academic blog.
Last Thursday I took my pre-independence Latin America to The Teaching Kitchen, an annex to the main cafeteria in which a chef, in coordination with a faculty member, instructs how to cook a certain dish. I used food in classes before but it was the first time I tried using cooking as a teaching tool. We prepared tortillas from masa harina, baked them (don’t grill me for this) and then ate them with beans and salsa, with chocolate made with almond milk (no atole available, unfortunately).Continue reading
An Excerpt of “Energy Geopolitics,” for the Foreign Policy Association, and the Wood County Committee on Aging’s Great Decisions Lecture Series, 2023, Bowling Green (21 January 2023)
When the Russians invaded the Ukraine last February, they hoped to use Europe’s dependence on Russian energy deliveries, particularly gas, to soften the reaction of the West, and perhaps also to split the West’s reaction to Russian aggression.
They hoped in particular that the Germans would remain somewhat conciliatory. Russia was supplying the EU with 40% of its natural gas before the war began. Natural gas constituted 25% of Germany’s energy supply, and Russia supplied 55% of Germany’s gas consumption. Moreover, Germany and Russia were about to open Nordstream II, the second major pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which permitted the direct shipment of Russian gas to Germany, without passing through Polish or Ukrainian territory.Continue reading
Reposted from Dr.Challú’s personal blog, visit this link here for more content!
In my #envhist class we have music breaks to chill, have fun, and dig into the themes of the class. Next week it’s my turn to bring a song and I chose Froggy Went A’Courtin.
Froggy is a terrific example of how (traditional?) ecological knowledge sneaks up in folklore and more broadly our culture. In Froggy I hear the echoes of nature observation and ecological knowledge that imho help understand the playfulness surrounding the song, its resilience and adaptability to convey different meanings depending on the context.
My favorite version is the Boss’s recording in The Seeger Sessions. But this is one of the oldest folksongs published in English (1st versions dating from 16th century). Most versions, Springsteen’s among them (check lyrics here), share a structure and major characters. Based on the described habitats, we can identify froggy with the common frog, present all over the British Isles and Europe and the subject of multiple European folk traditions1. Most interpretations dwell on the undertones of political commentary and critique of the song. And there is a strong tradition of folklore studies highlighting the lineage of the song and the mutual borrowings with other traditions.2
In the first part Froggy proposes to Miss Mousie, then seeks Uncle Rat’s consent. Common frogs and mice do not compete or have a predatorial relationship. Common frogs can live in human gardens and farms, while mice and rats also add human-built environments to their habitat. Froggy the outsider steps into the human habitat (Mousie’s door) and follows human social norms. The ridiculous pairing adds to the reading of these passages as political parody.
In the second part things get a bit more real. The wedding takes place in a hollow tree, insects come to supper, then a snake either eats Froggy or chases him into the lake; some versions add a duck eating Froggy. All these are actual ecological relations. Frogs prey on insects. The grass snake and ducks are the natural predators of frogs, and this does happen near standing water.
After the implausible marriage of a common frog and a mouse, the wedding scene is a reality check based on actual predatorial relations. Certainly this is still a fable mixing animal and human behaviors. The junie bug comes with a jug of whisky, the flying moth lays the tablecloth. All adds to the playfulness of the song and provides a template to add more impossible elements in each new performance of the song.
Froggy is not a lesson in ecology — and more broadly #folklore and #StoryTelling don’t have fixed meanings. I propose that it simply shows a shared understanding based on ecological knowledge derived from everyday observation, ranging from the implausible to everyday life around the farm or the house. Nature observation provides a language & a script with which folks can articulate different messages.
This is an aside, but as someone interested in the history of Food Security I feel it’s worth adding. The song ends there in some versions, but more frequently ends with something similar to #Springsteen’s ending: “Little piece of cornbread laying on a shelf. If you want any more, you can sing it yourself”. This type of ending is common throughout #folklore traditions. This mention harks back to Darnton’s idea that this common trope in fairy tales likely reflects on anxieties about lacking enough food.
Thanks for going with me into this rabbit hole. Let me know if I got any aspect of the story or the underlying ecological relations wrong. And please chime in with your thoughts!
Sources for images and text:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frog_Went_a-Courting : very good, has excellent bibliography on the folk traditions.
- A political reading in Albert Jack, Pop Goes the Weasel: Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes.
- Howard Inns, Britain’s Reptiles and Amphibians. https://doi-org.ezproxy.bgsu.edu/10.2307/j.ctvs32rjq.16
- Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre, “Peasant Tell Tales”
- Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonianlibraries/4863761034
- Springsteen’s version: https://youtu.be/ElIZNKklPR4
- Darnton’s “Peasant Tell Tales” briefly discusses frogs; traditions connecting frogs and mice go back into the antiquity, e.g. Aesop’s fable. ↩︎
- The wikipedia entry does a fair job with its history and sourcing the information from reputable sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frog_Went_a-Courting ↩︎
As we reflect on 50 years since 1972, we contemplate how past events and historical figures impact our present history. Students of Dr. Greene will learn more about this influential period in the HIST 3334/3334H: The Vietnam War course in Fall 2022.
Read the article here
As a remembrance of our colleague Professor Emeritus Don Rowney, who recently passed away, we share below Dr. Doug Forsyth’s eulogy with minor edits for brevity. We thank Dr. Forsyth for sharing the text.
As early as my on-campus job interview at Bowling Green, in spring 1996, it became clear to me that Don Rowney was the faculty member at the university who was most interested in having me as a colleague. My wife, Mercedes, and I drove out to northwest Ohio in early summer of 1996, as I looked for a place to live. Don and Susan invited us over for dinner, and I paid my first visit to the Old West End Historical District in Toledo, where Don and Susan were living, where Susan is still living, and where I would go on to live for twenty-four years and counting. I still remember vividly that dinner, on the porch behind Don and Susan’s house, and in particular one detail. Don asked Mercedes, who was and is a professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, why she had accompanied me on the long drive out to the Midwest as I looked for a place to live. ‘Do you think I’m going to leave my husband back here, without making sure it’s a decent place?’ she quipped. Don looked at her with this peculiar expression of delight he sometimes had, when someone said something unexpected, and in his view particularly amusing—it was the first, but not the last time I saw that expression on his face. And that sealed it—he and Mercedes became friends for life. Mercedes and I made life-long friends in the Old West End, and in many cases they were already friends of Don and Susan. I think I owe not just the continuation of my career to Don, but also a good deal of the happiness I’ve derived from living in this part of the world, over the past quarter century.Continue reading
Dr. Apollos Nwauwa, Professor of History & Africana Studies at Bowling Green State University, gave a lecture with the Igbo Studies Association on Saturday, January 2. Read more about and view the lecture below:
The post-World War II period in Africa was accompanied by a new intellectual revolution in which a distinguished scholar of Igbo extraction, Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike, was in the vanguard. The emergent transformation was most evident in African studies, especially in the realm of African historical consciousness, African historical thought, and African historical methodologies. This study explores not only the pioneering role of Professor Dike in inaugurating this new intellectual revolution but also in expanding the corollary frontiers that crystallized and augmented several African political and intellectual concepts of his time. Dike’s efforts stimulated a new intellectual consciousness that rescued African studies and African history from the colonialist, racist and patronizing tradition of his time.