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How Corn Changed Itself and then Changed Everything Else

October 4, 2021 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm


About 10,000 years ago, a weedy grass growing in Mexico possessed of a strange trait known as a “jumping gene” transformed itself into a larger and more useful grass—the cereal grass that we would come to know as maize and then corn. Most textbooks only mention corn in the context of rescuing a few early settlers, but it in fact sustained the colonies and then early United States, and then virtually created the Midwest, a region settled faster than any other region in history. It also created the region’s cities, especially Chicago, where everything from grain elevators to the Chicago Board of Trade to the 1893 World’s Fair to time zones to the stockyards were made possible by the golden flood flowing into the city.

This is a one-hour lecture about the history of corn and how it transformed the Americas before First Contact, how it traveled the world after First Contact, and its stunning impact on the creation of not only the historic Midwest but just about everything in it today.  Presented by Cynthia Clampitt and sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Road Schoalrs Speakers Bureau. This live lecture will be held in the Burbank Meeting Room. Please wear a mask. Registration is required. To sign up, please email


October 4, 2021
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
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