Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


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The Taproom: Jeffrey Pilcher

“The Global Invention of Lager Beer”

By Jeffrey Pilcher

largebeermap

“Around the World in 80 Beers.” Image courtesy of PureTravel.com.

“Around the World in 80 Beers.” It’s an arresting image of the globalization of beer. This map on the PureTravel website depicts each country according to its bestselling or iconic national brand: from Budweiser in the United States and Corona in Mexico, to Tsingtao in China and Oettinger in Germany. What is so striking about the image is that, with the sole exception of Ireland’s Guinness Stout, every label represents a single style: light, crisp, clear, Pilsner lager. The global spread of lager beer can be told as a story of Western cultural imperialism: A European product sails out in the hands of merchants, migrants, and imperialists to upend social patterns and transform landscapes around the world. But modern lager beer is just as much a product of globalization, invented and reinvented in locations around the world. Continue reading


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Making Tracks: Alan MacEachern

In the “Making Tracks” series, RCC fellows and alumni present their experiences in environmental humanities, retracing the paths that led them to the Rachel Carson Center. For more information, please click here.

Albrecht and Alan at the Alte”

By Alan MacEachern

In retrospect, mine was the least dissolute of dissolute youths. But spending post-undergraduate time traveling around Europe, drinking cheap beer, and sharing in overloud barroom debates on the human condition was, I thought, the real deal. By night I slept in damp hostels; by day I wandered the art galleries trying to look complicated. But I did genuinely come to love some artists, whatever that means. In Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, it was Rembrandt. In Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, it was Pieter Breughel.  And in Munich’s Alte Pinakothek, it was Albrecht Altdorfer and, more particularly, his Saint George and the Dragon. As difficult as it is to trace inspiration, that painting, as much as anything or anyone, nudged me in the direction of environmental history.   Continue reading


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Making Tracks: Chris Conte

In the “Making Tracks” series, RCC fellows and alumni present their experiences in environmental humanities, retracing the paths that led them to the Rachel Carson Center. For more information, please click here.

“Rust Belt Recollections and a Winding Road to Munich”

by Chris Conte

By the time I arrived at the Rachel Carson Center in May of 2015, I felt ready to write local landscape history. My preparation began in southwestern Pennsylvania, where I grew up in the 1960s and ’70s. My hometown, Washington, occupies a pocket of an area aptly referred to in the United States as the Rust Belt. One can certainly find the corroding remains of lead smelters, steel mills, and abandoned coke ovens— especially along the banks of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers—but beyond the industrial valleys, a bucolic and rolling topography extends into the river hinterlands. Childhood left with me contradictory sensory imprints, especially the smell of smokestack sulfur and the sight of pasture and forest. Continue reading