Film, Video Home Canning: Cultural Narratives, Technological Change & the Status of Traditional Knowledge

Transcript: TEXT

About this Item

Title
Home Canning: Cultural Narratives, Technological Change & the Status of Traditional Knowledge
Summary
Drawing on filmstrips, posters, cartoons, newspaper captions, canning manuals, mail-order catalogs and other sources, Danille Christensen offered examples that explore how technological changes contributed to the dismissal or even demonization of women's experience-based domestic knowledge in the area of home canning. Shelf-stable canned goods -- heat-sterilized fruits, vegetables and meat preserved in sealed containers -- have been part of everyday American life since the mid-19th century. While industrial canning utilized metal tins and mechanized processes, other forms of canning came to rely on glass bottles and the domestic labor of women. But even in the early 1900s, the practice had multiple meanings: for some, home canning was old-fashioned, inefficient or embarrassing. For others, it was a valuable skill to be displayed in public and mobilized in times of need. In today's contexts of economic instability, automated systems, and cultural and environmental change, do-it-yourself canning is experiencing a revival. The process can be a way to recall people and places, to perform authentic or esoteric taste, and to enact abstract values such as stewardship or self-sufficiency. In the 21st century, more people are canning their own food, and more are writing about it. However, the histories of canning that crop up in everything from food magazines to microbiology textbooks have been strikingly similar: they invariably celebrate a single "father of canning" -- a man depicted as a chef and/or scientist motivated by military concerns -- and consistently warn against relying on "grandma's" methods.
Event Date
July 19, 2016
Notes
-  Danille Elise Christensen received her Ph.D. in folklore from Indiana University and is assistant professor of religion and culture at Virginia Tech. Her work focuses on the ways people shape everyday speech, action and objects as they seek to influence and persuade others. Especially interested in gendered domestic labor as a site of commentary and display, she is completing the book "Freedom from Want: Home Canning in the American Imagination." She is a 2015 John W. Kluge Fellow.
Related Resources
American Folklife Center: https://www.loc.gov/folklife/
Running Time
1 hours 4 minutes 53 seconds
Online Format
video

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Credit Line: Library of Congress

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Chicago citation style:

Home Canning: Cultural Narratives, Technological Change & the Status of Traditional Knowledge. 2016. Video. https://www.loc.gov/item/webcast-7638/.

APA citation style:

(2016) Home Canning: Cultural Narratives, Technological Change & the Status of Traditional Knowledge. [Video] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/webcast-7638/.

MLA citation style:

Home Canning: Cultural Narratives, Technological Change & the Status of Traditional Knowledge. 2016. Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/webcast-7638/>.

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