Scott Nelson is the Georgia Athletic Association Professor of the Humanities at UGA. His book Steel Drivin’ Man, about the life and legend of John Henry won four national awards including the Curti Prize for best book in US history. His latest book is Oceans of Grain: How American Wheat Remade the World about how Russian and US competition for grain exports between the 1790s and World War I contributed to wars and revolutions in Ukraine, Russia, and the United States.
This lecture explores how to understand the world-economy by examining the distribution of food, in this case wheat. Starting with the myth of Demeter and Persephone as stories about food storage, this lecture looks at how food storage changed how empires worked during the time of the American Revolution and Catherine the Great's transformation of Russia through its invasion of the northern section of the Black Sea, around Ukraine. It also explores how conflicts over the delivery of grain shaped world wars I and II.