Assignment 4 “Heroes of the Frontier”

In the pages following chapter eight, specifically 150-200, Josie is conflicted by staying or leaving. She ultimately leaves because that just seems to be her nature. Even though she has a habit of changing her life and moving, she still considers finally settling down once she sees how Sam’s life is going. She says that people who stay and have solidarity in their lives are “plain idiots or the salt of the earth (Eggers 154).” This means that she thinks that “stayers” are the reason that their traditions and cultures are upheld where they live. The opposite of this means what she says; they’re just plain idiots. They’re stupid for staying where they live because they aren’t getting anything out of where they are. Another thing she realizes about herself is that the best parents are predictable, but also that, “interesting people cannot bear children (Eggers 150).” She is not predictable so she can’t be a good parent, but since she has children she can’t be interesting. She’s caught in between, which is probably the worst thing she can do. She even says that, “They don’t need me. They need good meals, and someone to bathe them dutifully, and to clean the house not because they should but because they want to (Eggers 151).” Really the only thing that she does for her kids is thinking about them and what they need. She is the one that wanted to go and leave her home in Ohio and get away from her husband, who had already left with his new girlfriend. She is too preoccupied with moving and changing up her life instead of settling down and giving her kids the proper care that they need.

She does consider staying and taking on a lifestyle that Sam has, but at the though of the responsibility that that entails, she makes up some reason to shoot it down and continue with what she has always been doing. Her thought process goes “Maybe they could live here. Maybe there was destiny and symmetry in her coming here to live near Sam, her fellow feral. But who could live here? It’s beautiful now, yes, but surely the winters are a holy fucking horror (Eggers 151).” This is how quickly she makes her decision. As soon as she thinks of one negative to something that would be good for her and her family, she immediately shoots the idea down and continues to make selfish decision.


Assignment 3 “Heroes of the Frontier”

We all know the differences between a mobile home and a solid home. One moves and one doesn’t. One is looked down upon and one is an impressive achievement and a staple of family life. Both show financial status but on different ends of the spectrum. These themes are prevalent in “Heroes of the Frontier.” and can be found at different times throughout the book. When Josie and her kids are at the bonfire with Sam, Doug, and the other children, she notices how the other families interact and how different her children are from the others. This shows her side of home, the mobile side. They’re all on the beach and eating food made over a campfire and not on a stove, microwave, or in an oven. These meals are fun to make and eat in these settings but not as a permanent way of living. After this bonfire the Sam takes Josie and their kids back to her house and Josie marvels at Sam’s house. The way Eggers describes the house through Josie’s eyes symbolizes Sam’s life. It’s described as “This was not some deep-country log cabin. This was a respectable and modern house, newly painted and sturdy and clean (Eggers 122).” Emphasis on the word sturdy. Since Sam has well raised children and comfortable home on top of the hill and a nice job she has a sense of security and solidarity in her life. Josie on the other hand just left her husband and moved her kids to Alaska because of this, and they are now living in a mobile home with a very ironic name. She lacks a sense of security or familiarity in her life which is symbolized by the mobility of their mobile home. Josie doesn’t know where to go next with her life. She can go in many different directions and make literal, but also figurative choices at the crossroads in her life. Once she figures out what she’s doing with her life she will gain a sense of solidarity and then probably upgrade from a mobile home to another stationary living space.

Assignment 2 “Heroes of the Frontier”

Right off the bat Josie seems very disappointed with the standards of the American society and how she is expected to raise her children. She’s used to a more simpler time where she was expected to go to four mandatory events at the school that were the fall and spring parent teacher conferences, and the two different concerts that the children were singing in. This was similar to the way my elementary school was set up except for maybe one extra event that was the fall festival. Josie is upset that she is now expected to be a single mother, work forty hours a week, and make time for what she sees as unnecessary events at her children’s school such as the “mid fall solstice sing along, or the late winter sledding song craft fair and potluck. (Eggers 51)” Josie compares these events to weeds choking out flowers in a garden, rust on flora, and even communism. She thinks that these are well intentioned but ultimately harm society and relates this to a decrease in human productivity and the national GDP, which seems very drastic unless she means that the events for children are taking away from the parents’ productivity at work. I share her beliefs that the excessive amounts of events in schools can take away from the parents productivity at work and make them more stressed but it doesn’t seem like it will have that big of an impact on the GDP. The stress will be added on by other parents who have time to attend the events and say that “Its fine if you don’t attend some of the art shows but if you don’t come your children will be failures.” This is very frustrating to me and hopefully many other readers, since there are actually parents out there that shame perfectly acceptable ways of raising children, simply because one way may be different than their own way. I also share her disappointment in the amount of events there are, since it can create helicopter parents in mass quantities, therefore raising a generation of children who don’t know how to take care of themselves as well as their parents do.

Assignment 1 “Heroes of the Frontier”

In the first fifty pages of the book the sense of home seems pretty terrible for Josie, since her husband is a bit of an asshole and she seems to be an alcoholic. This isn’t a good environment for the kids so Josie decides to take the children to Alaska since thats the farthest place she can go thats still within the country.  Since her and her husband are divorcing, Josie is taking her kids to Alaska and even though he’s moving to Florida with his new girlfriend, she still feels the need to get outta town and get as far away as possible. Because of this it seems that she feels like she’s at home as long as she’s with her children. This will probably come into play later on in the book. As for her children, they’re young so they don’t really have a deep understanding of home, other than it’s the house where live. Them being taken away from their father and moving hundreds of miles from where they started their lives must feel almost like a vacation for the children since they’re driving around Alaska in an RV which is just a small house on wheels that they call the chateau. Chateau means a large house or castle, which is very ironic since they’re now living in an old RV that Josie bought off of a man right after landing in Alaska. Taking this into consideration, the overall sense of home for the family doesn’t seem like a very happy and welcoming place right now. Josie packing up the kids, leaving her husband, and going to live in the frigid Alaskan frontier in an RV that is the exact opposite of its name is not the best feeling in the world and Josie knows this. This stimulates her drinking even more and her children are left to play with only each other. Even if this wasn’t enough, the very beginning of chapter three says “But this was not yet the land of mountains and light. What they’d seen so far was just a place. (Eggers 36)” This pretty much blatantly says that, at least Josie, isn’t satisfied with Alaska and was expecting greater and far more adventurous things from their new “home.”

Parts 1-8

Part one:

This object evokes memories and emotions from my childhood because when I see the old cookbook I think of how the families in the 1800’s cooked their food and how I used to bake with my mother because I wanted to know how to make shortcake (my favorite) when I was younger. So seeing any cookbook makes me think about the purpose and then I remember how I used to use a cookbook to make myself shortcake. I also think of how there have to be many other people who can relate to my experiences and how this cookbook isn’t just a staple of home to me today, but to other people now and in the past.

Part two:

Cookbooks in 1833 were very different than they are today. Within the first few pages there were diagrams on how to cut up an animal to use for food. Also the recipes were drastically different. There was a section on pies but none were what we know as pie today. One recipe was for a calf’s head pie. But there were some similarities in the recipes such as pancakes and other delicious things to eat. They also called most desserts pudding. There were recipes for cakes and other things of the sort under the pudding category. This shows us how language has also evolved over the years. We’ve americanized the english language since we now call it dessert but in England they still call dessert pudding.

Part three:

The book was small, bout as long as my my hand, roughly six to seven inches, and just slightly bigger than one fingers width of pages. The pages were brown from old age and very dry with various stains on them, probably from having the book out while cooking or preparing a meal. The covers looked to be very dry leather, a little lighter than the color of coffee. On the spine was the title of “Domestic Cookery” in all caps. The “E” in domestic was missing due to the old age of the book. The spine also had three different sections below the title with three of the same floral patterns and one section above the title with the same pattern. The back cover had fallen off years ago but was then taped back on using what appeared to be scotch tape but looked to be very old as well.

The full title of the book is “The Experienced American Housekeeper or Domestic Cookery — Formed on Principals of Economy for the Use of Private Families.” The first few pages are dedicated to diagrams of different animals and how to carve them and get the different cuts of meat to use in the recipes. After the diagrams comes “Observations for the Use of the Mistress of the Family” which basically is just stating a woman’s duties of the house and how to do them. This may be degrading to women by today’s standards, and I agree that it is, however for that time period the authors were somewhat respectful in this by stating that a woman should not only be confined to the house and only the duties inside as it was in the past.

Part four:

This cookbook that was published in 1833 is a very common object found in the homes of then and now. The only differences between past and present cookbooks are the methods of cooking, ingredients and some of the actual recipes, which makes them seem like a totally different thing. However, for the time period the cookbook was just as much a staple of life at home as it is today, maybe even more so. With advancements in technology and copious amounts of information available at our fingertips at any second, the cookbook as we know it may become obsolete.

Part five: While researching other cookbooks from the 1800’s, I came across a cookbook that was somewhat similar yet different to the one that I had studied in special collections. It was entitled “The Captain’s Lady Cookbook – a Personal Journal.” This had a similar preface to the “Domestic Cookery” book, but there was more additional information such as family records and this particular woman’s favorite poem. This added a more personal touch than what we can assume is a mass produced cookbook in the “Domestic Cookery.” It seems that the cookbook in special collections was not too common in that it was mass produced for its time. Other cookbooks in this time period were more collections of recipes that were gathered by the family, particularly the women of the family.

Part six: In regards to contemporary cookbooks, the only similarity that the special collections book has is that it is a cookbook. The majority of the recipes were different and unused in today’s world. There is rarely a preface to cookbooks anymore and if there is it might be some type of quote or maybe even a joke that people could find funny. I know that on the cover of my mother’s cookbook, which is titled “Surefire Recipes,” there’s a cartoon of an old grumpy lady thats burning the meal while the smoke alarm goes off. There were no jokes made like this back then and there are rarely any prayers at the beginning of cookbooks today.

The recipes and even the ingredients are shockingly different. There were ways to prepare every single part of the animal that you had to butcher yourself, such as calf’s head pie and boars head pie. All of the recipes that were listed in the book, except for a few simple ones, are no longer used today. Some of the recipes that the books have in common are something as simple as pancakes and some desserts like cakes and pudding.

Part seven:

As someone who loves looking at and studying older objects, this simple little cookbook was so fascinating to me. I want to learn more through this object and others like it. One thing I can theorize about home then and now is that we as a society have become wasteful in our cooking processes. This is because when people cooked in the 1800’s, they used every single part of the animal. This is a pretty recent thing too since my great aunt still eats the heart, liver, and occasionally a tongue if my dad is successful when he goes hunting. This can only be said for when my father goes hunting since we butcher and use the majority of the animal just like people used to do. Nowadays people normally go and get food thats been pre-made and rapped up in plastic packaging with preservatives. This is negative thing since we will throw away the excess plastic wrapping and that will eventually destroy the environment around us. The same goes with any vegetables that come in packaging. The people of the 1800’s were raising their own livestock and possibly had their own gardens to grow other vegetables, herbs, and spices. This produced little to no waste and whatever they didn’t use was easily disposed of, either by being eaton by carnivorous animals or decomposing naturally.

Part eight:

Other things that can be investigated are more background on who wrote the book, if any of the recipes are good, and what the ingredients are that have gone out of style and how they differ from what we use today. I think it would be very interesting to look into that and actually attempt to make one of the recipes from that book and compare it to something similar from today’s cookbooks.

The Stuff of Home (Questions)

  1. What appeals to you about this object? Why did you select it?
    1. I used to bake with my mom when I was a kid and I wanted to see how her common cookbooks compare to 1800’s cookbooks
  2. What type of object is it?
    1. A cookbook from 1833
  3. What aspect of the object will you research?
    1. How the books have changed over 200 years
  4. Describe the material nature of the object.
    1. A small deteriorated book with what appeared to be leather covers that were pretty dried up. The spine has the title of the book which is still barely legible, with fading floral patterns above and below the title. The back cover is being held on only by two pieces of tape. The pages are brown from old age and weathering.
  5. What’s the provenance of the object? What part of Long Island is it from? What date was it made?  Who is the maker?  Who/what is the subject?
    1. Hartford Connecticut, published by Andrus and Judd, 1833
    2. Andrus and Judd (?) Cookbook, making food 1800’s style
  6. What was the intended distribution of the object? Personal? Public?
    1. Personal use since it was intended “for the use of private families”, but in a sense it could also be public if you look at it as a published book that many families probably owned
  7. What does this object suggest about home during the period it was produced?
    1. Families back then were a lot more self sufficient; they grew some of their own food, spices, and herbs, and raised livestock and didn’t mind butchering the animal themselves.
  8. Is this object exceptional for its time?
    1. It seems to be a common cookbook that families would use regularly in that time period. The only exceptional thing about it is that its just under 200 years old.
  9. What’s the real story of the object? How does its story correlate to your own thoughts of home?
    1. It was probably used often by the family but kept in good condition so maybe it was a family heirloom that was passed down for generations.
    2. Daughters in that time period learned to cook with their moms and use books like this one.
    3. My mom has a lot of recipes in her cookbook like this one except the recipes are for meals that are completely different then than what we would eat today
    4. I enjoyed to make things from the book, especially shortcake and I’m sure that some of the people who used this old book had favorite meals to prepare
  10. Does encountering this object make you think differently about home?
    1. I don’t really think of home that differently but it does fascinate me how it has changed over that past few hundred years

“Reclaiming the Conversation” and Lecture

Ryan McCann

Dr. Lay

WSC 002

February 27th

“Reclaiming the Conversation” and Lecture

While reading from Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming the Conversation I found points that I disagreed with more than things that I had agreed with. She argued that phones are making us less social and that people aren’t paying as much attention to each other as they used to and how this is affecting families in our American culture. Turkle writes “So children, from the earliest stages, complain about having to compete with smart phones for their parents’ attention. – An eight year old boy gets up from the table and tugs at his mothers sleeve when she takes out her phone during the meal. ‘No. Not now. Not now!’ he pleads. As she turns back to her child, the mother says, ‘Mommy has to make a quick call.’ The boy returns to his chair, sullen. (104)” This little story that Turkle tells might be accurate in some cases but most parents have reasons to take phone calls; such as business or important family matters. No good parent would neglect their child to call their friend to gossip or talk about their day. I did agree with this point to a certain extent though, since many families are definitely less social than they used to be with each other, however I don’t think it’s as bad as Turkle makes it out to be.

Shortly after the point previously stated, Turkle wrote about parents using their phones instead of spending time with their kids, she then says “Families tell me they like to have their arguments through text, email, and Gchat – that this helps them express themselves more precisely.” I enjoyed this quote because I agree with the families that have arguments like this. If done correctly this is a great way to make sure that arguments don’t get too heated and that people feelings don’t get hurt. This also helps ensure that the arguers think about what they say before they type it instead of just blurting out the first thing they think of.

After attending the presentation that Turkle gave here at Hofstra, my stance changed on the subject that she was discussing. I was completely opposed to her views on technology after reading the excerpt from Reclaiming the Conversation, this was most likely since I read the excerpt in a different tone than how she intended to write it. She started the presentation by emphasizing that she is not anti-technology. She couldn’t stress this enough and this made me skeptical. I wanted her to explain herself. I was pleasantly surprised at the arguments she was making for technology, but what really stuck with me was that she was now able to explain herself and share her experiences so that I better understood them. One experience that I remember her sharing is that while some of her students were sharing very intense stories bout their lives before attending MIT and struggling to make it there, other students were on their phones or computers not really paying attention. Hearing this I was a little shocked. MIT students, some of the smartest people in the country, were on their phones during class and not listening to their peers’ stories? Stories about their resilience and how they overcame the struggles in their lives to get to where they are now. These stories should be so intriguing to these bright young minds but instead they’re on their phones not listening to their peers.

Another example that she gives is when her colleagues get together for a department meeting, they all greet each other warmly and then sit down and open their computers instead of conversing until the meeting officially starts. Then afterwards they text and drive in the parking lot. This seems like it would be very upsetting for Turkle, and understandably so. Some of the greatest minds in the country are doing something as silly as texting and driving. These two points that she made proved to me that she really is pro technology but only if it’s used correctly. For educational purposes, communication, to keep up with current events, and things of that sort. Not while someone else is talking or when you’re with a friend one on one having a conversation.

Although when I read the excerpt from Reclaiming the Conversation, I had ideals that disagreed with Turkle, I overall enjoyed the article since I see technology as helping people become more social as long as it’s in moderation and doesn’t consume us as a society. This seems to be the main idea that she was talking about during her presentation here at Hofstra; use technology, but don’t let it take away from personal interaction.