Morel Tales: The Culture of Mushrooming
Harvard University Press, 1998 - Nature - 324 pages
In this thoughtful book, Gary Fine explores how Americans attempt to give meaning to the natural world that surrounds them. Although "nature" has often been treated as an unproblematic reality, Fine suggests that the meanings we assign to the natural environment are culturally grounded. In other words, there is no nature separate from culture. He calls this process of cultural construction and interpretation, "naturework." Of course, there is no denying the biological reality of trees, mountains, earthquakes, and hurricanes, but, he argues, they must be interpreted to be made meaningful. Fine supports this claim by examining the fascinating world of mushrooming. Based on three years of field research with mushroomers at local and national forays, Morel Tales highlights the extensive range of meanings that mushrooms have for mushroomers. Fine details how mushroomers talk about their finds--turning their experiences into "fish stories" (the one that got away), war stories, and treasure tales; how mushroomers routinely joke about dying from or killing others with misidentified mushrooms, and how this dark humor contributes to the sense of community among collectors. He also describes the sometimes friendly, sometimes tense relations between amateur mushroom collectors and professional mycologists. Fine extends his argument to show that the elaboration of cultural meanings found among mushroom collectors is equally applicable to birders, butterfly collectors, rock hounds, and other naturalists.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Other editions - View all
activity aesthetic Amanita amateurs American appreciate asked become called claim club collecting collectors considered consume create cultural danger depends described desire develop edible emotional environment environmental evident example exist experience Fall feel field foray friends fungi genus give given going human humor hunting identify important individuals interest involves Jerry joked knowledge leisure limited linked look meaning meetings metaphorical Minnesota moral morels mush mushrooms mycelium Mycological Society mycologists names narratives nature noted novices objects one's organizations participants particularly percent Perhaps pick poisonous possible practice Press problem professional protect quotation reality recognize relations relationship rooms scientific secrecy seen sense shared social Society species specimens Spring stories suggests talk taste things tion told tree trust understand University Press wild woods York