Commodity Histories by Bruce Robbins

By Bruce Robbins

Essay's first paragraph:

One extraordinary attribute of commodity histories, a unexpectedly ubiquitous style of renowned non-fiction, is a definite overkill of their subtitles. A consultant pattern could contain, say, Corn and Capitalism: How a Botanical Bastard Grew to international Dominance; Tobacco: A Cultural background of ways an unique Plant Seduced Civilization; The Potato: How the common-or-garden Spud Rescued the Western World; The global of Caffeine: The technological know-how and tradition of the World’s preferred Drug; Cod: A Biography of the Fish that modified the World; and Mauve: How One guy Invented a colour that modified the World. in basic terms a little bit much less over-the-top than the “changed the world” clause, which additionally looks in contemporary histories of vanilla, condo cats, ping pong balls, dishwashing liquid, and pocket lint, is the trend for two-word titles during which an adjective, often a commodity-identifying colour, is paired with the main coveted of beneficial metals. a few examples are Blue Gold (water), White Gold (rubber), Black Gold (oil), and Green Gold (tea and marijuana). Such titles recommend that every one of those commodities, even the humblest, have the facility to get continents came upon, dynasties toppled, mountains moved. We take a few of these commodities with no consideration, yet them all have replaced the world.


Robbins, Bruce. "Commodity Histories." PMLA, 120.2 (Mar., 2005): 454-463.

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The stories were rewritten for children by Virginia Hamilton. Why Meat Loves Salt by Nina Jaffe Illustrated by Louise August Henry Holt, 1998 GRADES K–5 A rabbi has three daughters, Reyzeleh, the oldest, Khaveleh, the middle, and Mireleh, the youngest. The rabbi loves his daughters very much but he wonders how much they love him. So he asks Reyzeleh how much she loves him. She tells him that she loves him as much as diamonds. The middle daughter Khaveleh tells him that she loves him as much as gold and silver.

Zlata’s life is falling apart. As the sound of shelling constantly invades the air, Zlata tries to maintain a normal life without water, electricity, or heat. Fear intrudes on her thoughts as she practices her piano lessons to the cacophony of machine guns. Zlata’s Diary depicts the life of a normal teenage girl thrown into the madness of war; death and destruction and sadness are not far behind. 13 Where Are Your Survival Stories? Climb or Die by Edward Myers Hyperion, 1994 GRADES 5–8 In this survival story, Danielle and her brother Jake must use all of their athletic ability and ingenuity to scale Mount Remington in a snowstorm.

When the Little Red Hen inquires about a helper, Jack ignores her and introduces the stories. In the first story, Chicken Licken tells Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Cocky Locky that the sky is falling. As they run to tell the President, Jack interrupts to tell them that he has forgotten the table of contents. They ignore him and meet Foxy Loxy just outside the airport. Foxy Loxy tricks them and leads them to his cave, where they are all crushed by the table of contents. In “The Princess and the Bowling Ball,” the traditional pea is replaced by something bigger.

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