Name * Julie Kappelman :

Name * Julie Kappelman
Title of Research Project : Not Just Sex That Sells: Religious References and Rhetoric in
Contemporary Beer Branding
1.) Reflectively describe your literature research process. Tell us how you used library
resources or services of any kind (from ILL to online databases to archives collections to
meeting with your liaison librarian). *
I began with the desire to conduct an analysis of contemporary beer branding techniques that
used religious allusions. To successfully accomplish this task, I needed to contextualize this
feature historically as well as within the modern beer industry. Thus, I undertook a study of the
history of beer brewing in which I focused upon key moments and periods. Requisite for my
later efforts was an understanding of the relationship between beer and society in medieval
Europe, Prohibitionist United States, and modern America. This study illuminated the
employment of saints, Satanic figures, and other items of religious derivation. The exercise
comparing attitudes and practices in different periods enabled me to forge linkages as well as
note discrepancies. I then coupled this knowledge with research on the modern beer industry
and consultation of advertising theory. My objective also entailed tracing theories exploring the
connection between food and religion.
Although systematic, my literature research process was not linear but dynamic, cyclical, and
reflective. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of my project, I spoke with three liaison librarians
who were able to assist with different components of my research. The liaisons helped me find
sources and also improve my own searching capacities. The University’s Special Collections also
provided access to advantageous material. I also spoke with university professors within
relevant fields for their counsel on what texts they considered crucial to include. In my research
process, I constantly re-evaluated what sources would be most significant and rearranged
priorities based on my findings. With different search terms, I repeatedly queried larger online
databases such as Academic Search Premier and JSTOR as well as subject-specific databases
such as ATLA, Business Source Complete, and Polling the Nations. The library’s encyclopedias
and book collection were fundamentally helpful. From the Collins Catalog, I perused the titles of
works owned by the University, Summit libraries, and WorldCat libraries. I utilized each of these
three tiers of the Collins Catalog over the course of the summer. When a source was helpful, I
also consulted the LOC headings to find texts with similar aims.
2.) Tell us about a challenge you faced while doing literature research and how you overcame
it. *
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the proposal, I struggled with a paucity of data that
pertained directly to my selected topic. To resolve this issue, I identified relevant components
and then integrated this information in my analysis. I familiarized myself with historical,
theoretical, artistic, and economic viewpoints to discuss the modern marketing strategy. The
most significant challenge emerged in my study of the contemporary beer industry. No
comprehensive database of breweries and their beer exists that would enable quantitative
analysis of the technique’s prevalence, identification of motivations, or notable correlations to
other variables such as geographical region (i.e., Does the religiosity of the locale correspond
with differing rates of this technique’s employment and success? Is this strategy employed with
more or less frequency in the Pacific Northwest than it is in the South?), and quantitative
measurements of annual production and consumption variables did not address this inquiry.
I endeavored to develop the absent inventory by using materials published online and in print
by enthusiasts and breweries. Sifting through popular source materials enabled me to compile
pertinent data. Like Robert Gottschalk, an author of American Breweries who assisted its
revision in American Breweries II, I found myself “pouring through every reference known to
man to come up with the most accurate assemblage of data humanly possible” within the
allotted time frame. I agree with Roland Barthes’ assertion that “[i]nformation about food must
be gathered wherever it can be found: by direct observation in the economy, in techniques,
usages, and advertising; and by indirect observation of the mental life in a given society” (167,
“Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption”). I supplemented my literature
research with field work. I independently read Research Methods in Anthropology (the textbook
used in CSOC/SOAN’s Social Research classes) at the beginning of the summer to ensure that I
would conduct valid work. Engaging with participants in the beer industry enabled quick
edification of misrepresentations and ensured that I was accurately presenting the material.
Regularly discussing the process with my advisor, other grant recipients, and other individuals
also helped me develop my analysis.
This project’s scope restricted my ability to extensively invest myself in a single historical period
or overextend my energies into facets of the modern beer industry that were less pertinent to
my analysis. For instance, I developed general itemized guidelines for different beer branding
techniques but could not dwell upon their relative prevalence or success. I maintained
accountability with the Tufts University Research Navigator, which set deadlines for completing
different tasks. I set the due date a month prior to the actual deadline so I could minimize the
deleterious effects of unforeseen circumstances. I accorded as much attention to each facet as I
could and adjusted due dates as necessary but roughly adhered to the established temporal
guidelines. Eventually, I accepted remaining lacunae as projects for subsequent scholars to fill.
In the composition of my analysis, I still considered the remaining gaps and gestured towards
the benefits of additional inquiry when applicable.
3.) How does your research contribute to the scholarly conversation in your field? What is the
significance of your research, in layperson’s terms? *
The study of religion and food has received comparatively little academic attention. For
instance, texts by Rudolph Bell and Caroline Walker Bynum that discuss the ‘holy anorexia’ of
medieval females renowned for their religiosity highlight a facet of medieval religious history
that has been overlooked in the pervading discourse about theological and intellectual
components of religious history and practice. To contribute to this developing field and warrant
the merits of this approach, I chose to cover an element that had not been considered. Analysis
of the religious references in contemporary beer branding intrigues and convinces skeptics of
the value of forging an academic approach considering the relationship between food and
religion. This initial endeavor provides groundwork for later academic work regarding a topic
otherwise discarded by an assumed dearth of significance. The invocation of "St. Something"
and other religious depictions reveals underlying attitudes about religion, society, the individual,
and beliefs of the proper roles of each. My analysis also contributes to discourse about
contemporary society, popular malaise and discontent towards industrialization, and modern
status politics.