With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

The Scholars Who Look at American History Through Beer-Tinted Glasses

Strictly speaking, "beer studies" does not exist yet as a scholarly field, but people have been studying the technology and science of beer closely for years. Home brewing, which emerged as a niche hobby in the 1970s after Congress repealed federal restrictions that were relics of Prohibition, has become widespread, while the commercial popularity of "craft" brews has inspired a generation of beer geeks.

Where there are geeks, there are academics.

J. Nikol Beckham, an assistant professor of communication studies at Randolph College, in Virginia, was a beer geek before she was a beer scholar, but one road inevitably led to the other. She could not help but notice that she was the only black woman in her community of home brewers and beer enthusiasts. The professor started wondering about the relationship between beer and race in American culture.

Her research took her back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when parts of the temperance movement took up arms against urban saloons not just because of what they served, but whom. She found political cartoons from the Prohibitionist Party that painted ugly portraits of German immigrants and African-Americans. ...

Read entire article at The Chronicle of Higher Education