Digging Into Bermuda’s Slave Past

When Anima Ghimire’s history advisor recruited students for an archaeological dig in Bermuda, Ghimire instantly responded, “I’m on board!”

During the summer of 2013, Ghirmire, a double major in neuroscience and history, joined a four-student team and Professor Michael Jarvis for a five-week course excavating Smith’s Island, one of the earliest known settlements in Bermuda.

Jarvis has been working summers on the 60-acre island since 2010. The dig concentrated on what has come to be known as the “Oven Site,” named for the several stone ovens at the location.

The Oven Site is believed to be the remains of Boaz Sharpe’s house. Sharpe settled on the island in the late 1600s, and remained until his death in 1707. Sharpe’s household included nine Native American slaves, most likely from South Carolina—two older couples and their children.

The introduction of slavery to Bermuda—and especially the role of Native American slaves—is important to understanding the history of slavery in the Atlantic World.

“I didn’t really appreciate how important archaeology was until I did it,” Ghimire says.

Sifting through evidence

Excavation of the site has revealed a chimney, hearth, and several ovens. The team also uncovered hand-shaped chert flakes that had not been found in Bermuda before.

“Dr. Jarvis had an inventory that suggested these people lived there,” Ghimire explains. “But then we found evidence that this was, in fact, where Boaz Sharpe lived. We found chert stone flints that only Native Americans used.

Identifying the Oven Site’s original occupants was a major milestone for the hard-working team.

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“Most of the time we dug—and it was a very meticulous process. It took us five weeks to dig five feet down,” Ghimire says. “And you can’t really use a shovel. You have to use a trowel because it’s very delicate work.

“Dr. Jarvis is really, really chill and awesome, but when it comes to archeology, he’s very organized and systematic,” she says.

“We found was a lot of fish bones. A lot, a lot, of fish bones! We also learned they kept cats,” Ghimire says.

“And there was a lot of pottery, and that was important. For example, there is a specific kind of pottery that was only made during a 30-year period. So it kind of tells us what the time period was when people settled in the house. There were a lot of clay pipes—the size of the bowl tells you when the pipe was made,” Ghimire says, explaining that the bowl sizes changed along with the fluctuations in tobacco prices throughout the 17th century, making it easy to date the artifacts.

“You can learn about people in class, but you can’t really experience what they were doing firsthand until you get to do archaeology,” she says.

Every little bone

“What was good about this year was that we got a lot of local Bermudians to volunteer. It was awesome. We had all age groups, and they were really enthusiastic. They came back everyday, so that was awesome!
“Bermudians are so chill. We talked a lot about their lifestyle, how they grew up, and their customs,” she says.

“They were really excited to find every little bone. I was too . . . at first. Then it’s like, ‘here’s another fish vertebra!’ But Dr. Jarvis never got jaded. He is so enthusiastic.”

“We were always afraid of finding human bones,” Ghimire confesses. “There was a circular area within Sharpe’s trash site that was big enough to fit a man—like a grave. And Jarvis was really reluctant to dig it, because if there was a body then we’d have to stop the dig, call in a forensic team, and everything would come to a halt. But, luckily, it was just a natural depression in the soil layer.

“It didn’t feel like five weeks, it went by so fast. It’s a six-credit course—though it didn’t seem like I was doing a lot of work because it was so much fun.”

Sharper skills

Even though Ghirmire is on a pre-med track, she says studying history has helped to her hone skills that are important to her success in medicine.

“History is a passion. It teaches me how to think, and how to see the world,” she says.

“History in college isn’t anything like it is in high school. It’s not about remembering dates. It’s about finding evidence to support why something happened. I just love that aspect of it. And now I like archaeology, too.”

Archive project links history and computer science

Senior Luke Kortepeter came to college on the pre-med track, but a class project in the library’s archives turned him into a computer science and history double major.

He’s been working on the Seward Family Papers digital history project for two years. Students involved in the project take Professor Thomas Slaughter’s history class on the family of William H. Seward, and also transcribe and digitize letters from a collection in the Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation department of  Rush Rhees Library.

“This spring we focused on the family correspondence,” says Kortepeter. “It’s a whole new primary resource that hasn’t been utilized yet.

He says the 15 students in the class spent the spring on letters from 1862. Once digitized and online, the papers will be more accessible, he says.

After four semesters working on the project, Kortepeter knows a lot about the Sewards. “I must have read 500-1,000 letters so far, and it’s awesome,” he says.

“We have thousands of letters covering a sixty year period. We are going through every single one,” he says. “And that’s really cool for me, actually, knowing that you’re the very first person reading the letter since it was first read.”

Bad handwriting

kortepeter_280 The project is expected to go “live” in the spring of 2015. Kortepeter and his classmates are racing to get as many letters transcribed, annotated, and digitized as they can before the project’s debut.

That said, the process requires keen eyes and a good understanding of the Seward family’s historical context.

In addition to serving as Secretary of State under President Abraham Lincoln for two terms, William Henry Seward was the Governor of New York and a US senator. He also negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians for two cents per acre—a purchase many considered foolish at the time.

Just reading the letters can be a challenge. “Since the handwritings on the letters are pretty awful for the most part, we are transcribing them—once you get used to it, it’s not as bad,” Kortepeter says.

“And, we are also annotating them. The user will be able to read the transcription right next to the digital image, and if they see a name they are interested in, they can click and it will say who that person was.

Teen diary

“Having been with the project for a while I’ve read basically everyone’s handwriting. It’s definitely interesting to see how different they are.

“Fanny Seward’s is very curly—beautiful handwriting—and she loved writing about her daily life,” Kortepeter says. “She’s a teenager at this time, and so you can see how she’s growing up and how the world is changing so much around her.

“She’d have fine descriptions of gentlemen, and will talk about things as basic as their jawline and how it curves perfectly. And so it’s very interesting to read—I mean, it’s her diary. She wasn’t expecting anyone to be reading it,” says Kortepeter.

Finding personalities

“Then on the opposite end of the spectrum, we have William Henry’s wife, Frances, whose handwriting is awful.

“It’s up for debate how ‘into’ the whole political thing she was in terms of supporting him,” says Kortepeter. “Some historians say that she wasn’t very supportive and it was a pain for her to have go to these conventions
with him. But,” he says, “we are finding that might not be true.

“She would go to Washington, DC, and say how awful it was and how she had migraines the whole time. And how at social events she would go, but then sit in a room by herself.

It’s “really cool” to pick up on people’s personalities in the letters, according to Kortepeter. “A lot of these resources weren’t available, so when [researchers] only had a snippet of letters and she’s angry in every single one of them, then you’d say ‘yeah, of course, she’s angry and hates her husband’s career,’” he explains.

“But when you see these other letters and she’s so passionate about slavery—she hated slavery—or just her opinions about political scandals at the time, it just really shows she was interested, and she definitely had opinions about what was going on.

“The DC social life wasn’t for her. She found it incredibly stressful. Especially since her husband was so incredibly social—it was hard to live up to that,” Kortepeter says.

‘I have no desire to be a doctor’

Kortepeter, who started out doing pre-med, says the Seward letter project “has definitely changed my college path completely.

“I had been doing premed stuff all through high school—I worked in labs, both my parents are doctors, and I figured, ‘yeah, sure, I could be a doctor, too.’ And that winter break of my freshman year, I followed a surgeon around for a little bit, and I was just… ‘I hate this—I have no desire to be a doctor.’

“Then I floundered around a little bit, trying econ. I took a history class with Professor Jarvis, and my freshman writing teacher worked with Slaughter and said, ‘Why don’t you talk to him, he’s my favorite professor—and just take a class with him’? And I was like, ‘okay, sure.’”

Kortepeter says his parents had different reactions to his change in plans.

“My father was excited for me to explore my own thing. My mother was confused because I was always so sciencey—all throughout high school,” he says. “All my AP classes were in science.

“It was very new to me to go into a history class. I came here because I know it’s a strong science school,” Kortepeter says, “and then ended up studying something totally different.”

He says his two majors complement each other. “Usually with computer science I’ll do my projects, but I don’t really get to apply it. Like, I can only make Tetris so many times,” he says with a laugh.

“With this, I really get to be on both sides of the project: I get to do the history things and work with the letters, but then as a computer science student, I am also working on the website and the database—helping with everything, really,” he explains.

“It was the perfect project for me.”

Student Filmmakers Recognized at 8th Annual Gollin Film Festival

By Caitlin Mack ’12(T5)
Univ. Communications

A diverse group of 12 student films were presented at the 8th annual Gollin Film Festival at the University of Rochester on Wednesday, May 1, with the top three films winning $1,000 in cash prizes. The festival, which is open to all undergraduate students at the University, is sponsored by the university’s Film and Media Studies Program with generous support from Studio Art.

“The film festival is an event of great importance because it highlights student artistic and academic work,” said Jason Middleton, assistant professor of English. “It also gives students (and their friends and family) a chance to see their films on the big screen, which makes for a thrilling experience.”

In Skyline, first place winner Sheldon Agbayani ’15 coded a program in Processing, a programming language built for creating visual art such as colorful 2-D buildings. The program produced buildings of varying heights and textures against natural horizons to construct a randomly generated geometric skyline.

“For my film, I tried to convey my own idea and perception of what city skylines look like, how they rise and how they fall,” said Agbayani, who won $500. “It’s somewhat a simulation of city growth as I see it.” Agayani, an optical engineering major from Aiea, Hawaii, explained, “What makes my film unique is the fact that I didn’t ‘choose’ exactly how the film played out; I let the program do most of the thinking.”

Brynn Wilkins ’14 received second place and $300 for her film Contemporary Ballet, a performance art piece which features a lone ballet dancer encircled by women riding horses. “Contemporary Ballet focuses on the performer’s ability to carry out actions in atypical and distracting environments,” said Wilkins, a film and media studies major from Fairport, N.Y. “In a stable, the dancer is taken out of her element when she must perform with horses trotting around her, dust flying in the air, and even while sitting on horseback.”

Hayle Cho ’13 placed third for My Flow Story, a documentary about a man who tries his hand at b-boying to find meaning and happiness in life. “Through b-boying, a dance of hip-hop culture, the young man finds purpose,” said Cho, a film and media studies major from Fort Lee, N.J, who won $200.

Students were allowed to submit a maximum of two film submissions created using a variety of media including cell phones, .gif animation, video, 16mm film, Hi-8, or Flash. The winners were determined by a panel of university professors including Jason Middleton, Cary Peppermint, and Evelyne LeBlanc-Roberge.

The festival was established in 2005 in honor of Professor Emeritus of English Richard Gollin, who founded the film studies program at the University in 1976 with the assistance of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Gollin, who retired in 1989, authored A Viewer’s Guide to Film: Art, Artifices, and Issues, and received recognition for his research and writings on Romantic poetry and the Victorian novel. For additional information about the Gollin Film Festival visit http://www.rochester.edu/College/FMS/.

Sagefest 6 Pits Superhero Scientists Against Art Avengers

Spelling bees. Volleyball games. Raft races. Costume contests. No, it’s not an elementary school field day, it’s Sagefest 6. And in 2013, these activities were designed to continue the long-standing, much discussed rivalry between art and science.

On the afternoon of April 19, students from engineering and science departments (Team Science) went up against art students (Team Art) in a battle of wits, athleticism, and creativity. When the dust (or sand) settled on the volleyball court, and the last word had been spelled correctly, Team Science had racked up an impressive 141 points and Team Art lagged behind with only 95 points. As Sagefest organizer Derek Crowe ’10 said, “Team Art Lost. L-7 Style.”

Despite the fierce competition, by all accounts, the day was a success. “The weather was wonderful. We had a terrific showing and the entirety of the chocolate milk was drunk in less than 30 minutes,” said Crowe. “Costumed people were silly, yelled, ran up a hill with a boat, and threw bowling balls at unsuspecting Frisbee players.”

And so, the epic battle was won. Proof of Team Science’s victory, a motorized, rotating brain sculpture, will be on display in the biomedical engineering department office until next year, when Team Art will have a second chance to glory.

At Sagefest, the annual event organized by the Sage Art Center, printmaking students were also on hand screen-printing original designs on T-shirts and WRUR provided musical entertainment.

Crowe provides a full recap, along with photos, here: http://sageartcenter.com/2013/05/01/sagefest-a-success-artists-give-away-art/.

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Students in Rome Experience History in the Making

By Melissa Greco Lopes
Univ. Communications

Over Spring break, five undergrads studying religion and classics under Professor Nick Gresens headed to Rome for a week full of visits to the ancient sites of Cicero and Caesar, where the group would read inscriptions and study the geography and history of locations where Rome’s leaders once convened and shaped the classical world. And, in the surprise of a lifetime, the group also experienced history in the making, as cardinals from around the world gathered in Vatican City to elect the next leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

At around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16, Gresens, along with Peter Carlile ’13, Dan Gorman ’14, and Ryan Vogt ’13, made their way to St. Peter’s Square to see the results of the fifth rounding of voting. None of them expected to see white smoke billow from the Basilica.

“At first we weren’t sure if it was white or black smoke. The first puff was grey and then turned to white,” said Carlile, who was among more than 10,000 visitors awaiting the results. “The visceral, emotional response on the square was palpable.”

As the smoke signaled the selection of a new pope, Carlile and Gorman rushed to get as close to the steps of the Basilica as they could. “It was awe-inspiring,” says Gorman, a history and religion major, who took the opportunity to take as many photos as possible.

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Sasha Tharani ’14 Says Trip a ‘Defining Experience’

Amanda Budreau ’14, a studio arts major studying in Rome for the spring semester, also was able to witness Pope Benedict’s last papal audience. While the excitement was high, with members of the crowd chanting “Viva, Viva, Papa” to the tune of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Budreau said comparing it to the selection of the new pope was akin to “comparing an elementary school’s talent show to a Beyonce concert.”

Like Carlile and Gorman, Budreau pushed through the crowd to get a closer glimpse of the new pope. All three were able to view members of the Swiss Guard and hear a formal announcement that Argentinean cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been selected the 266th pontiff.

Budreau also noted the reverence amid the celebration of the occasion. “When the Pope asked us to bow our heads, the entire square (which was completely full) was silent, you could hear the sound of the water splashing in the fountains,” she explained. “At the end of his speech, he said goodnight and told us that we could all relax now.”

On Thursday, Meredith Doubleday ’13, along with the other students in Gresens’ course, headed to the Vatican Museums, where they picked up copies of the souvenir newspaper. “It was nice to be in this quiet space,” she said, “reading the paper on the first day after the announcement.”

About the Photos: Pictures 1, 3, 4, 6, and 8 are courtesy of Amanda Budreau, who in addition to witnessing the election of new pope, saw CNN corespondent Anderson Cooper cover the story. Pictures 2, 5, and 7 are courtesy of Dan Gorman. Picture 9, a photo of Nick Gresens and students Meredith Doubleday ’13, Kate Hughes ’13, Ryan Vogt ’13, Peter Carlile ’13, and Dan Gorman ’14, is courtesy of Meredith Doubleday.

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Susan B. Anthony And Her World: A New Class

By Josh Morse ’14 & Alayna Callanan ’14
Univ. Communications

In a new course offered this spring, University of Rochester students will take a closer look at Susan B. Anthony’s life. Taught by Professor Honey Meconi, who also is the director of the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies, Susan B. Anthony and Her World seeks to encompass not only the major political issues that defined Susan B. Anthony’s life, but the physical, material, and cultural world which shaped her work.

Here in Rochester, Susan B. Anthony’s home for many years, we are uniquely positioned to explore her life. Meconi plans to capitalize on this with a number of field trips including visits to Anthony’s gravesite, the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House downtown, and to the Matilda Joslyn Gage House, located in Fayetteville, NY. “I’m always struck by how many students have never visited Anthony’s gravesite or her home, much less other nearby sites for women’s history,” Meconi explains. “Seeing these places really puts historical events in a new light, and I want to make sure that interested U of R students have that experience.”

Expanding upon this physical connection with Susan B. Anthony’s life, Meconi is partnering with the Humanities Project to bring four guest lecturers to Rochester, who will discuss different aspects of the social climate surrounding Susan B. Anthony.

Erika Howard ’13, an English major and women’s studies minor, is excited to be enrolled in the course. “I’ve always been fascinated with Susan B. Anthony and her ties to not only the city of Rochester, but our school as well,” Howard says. “Despite this deep link, however, I’ve never had a chance to study her other than a brief covering of her and other suffragists in the Colloquium of Women’s Studies course.”

By exploring Susan B. Anthony’s world, Meconi hopes her students will gain a more informed viewpoint from which to critically examine today’s social issues. “We are far from living in a post-racial society, alcohol abuse is still widespread (not least on college campuses), and one could well argue that women’s rights have eroded in recent decades,” Meconi says. “Knowing how we got where we are today always puts us in a stronger position in dealing with problems.”

Above all, Meconi hopes to impart a deeper appreciation of the challenges Susan B. Anthony undertook, and the strength it took to overcome them. “In terms of challenges for Anthony, the assumption that women were inferior to men in virtually all respects-a claim supposedly supported by “scientific” evidence-made it difficult for her and her colleagues to be taken seriously.  This meant glacial progress towards suffrage, which only came after her death and the death of her closest friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  Yet neither woman gave up on their quest for equality.  They knew that what they were working for was right.  Their tenacity remains incredibly inspiring.”

Photo provided by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies

Rochester Joins Nine Other Universities to Explore For-Credit Online Education

By Melissa Greco Lopes
Univ. Communications

The University of Rochester has partnered with nine peer institutions to establish a consortium to explore a new, for-credit, online course program called Semester Online. The consortium is working with the company 2U (formerly known as 2tor), which was created in 2008 to develop for-credit online courses.

“As a leading research university, Rochester has a responsibility to shape and define the use of technology to enrich the academic experience for our students,” said Robert Clark, dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and interim senior vice president for research. “This partnership allows us to explore the creation of online learning initiatives with peer institutions that share our mission of delivering education of the highest quality.”

VIDEO: Prof. John Covach Talks Semester Online with Marketplace

VIDEO: Undergrads Share Reaction with 13WHAM-TV

The other consortium members are Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

The program is intended to offer academically qualified students an expanded selection of course offerings from some of the country’s most prestigious institutions while giving them the freedom to work, travel, participate in off-campus research programs, or manage personal commitments as they pursue their academic goals. More information about Semester Online courses and the application process will likely be available in early 2013.

Semester Online is one of many approaches Rochester is considering in terms of online education. For the last several months, a University-wide taskforce led by Clark has been assessing the current and future use of technology and digital media in the classroom from traditional, to web-facilitated, to blended courses, to full online.

“Rochester’s interest in online education rests in how it can leverage technology to build connectivity between students and faculty, and how it can develop and enhance the educational experience broadly,” Clark said.

New Class Explores Religion & Hip Hop

By Caitlin Mack
Univ. Communications

With the addition of the new class “Religion and Hip Hop Culture” this fall semester, the University of Rochester has begun to put academic investment into an important piece of Americana – hip hop – a phenomenon that is slowly but surely catching on at institutions of higher learning across the country.  However, the pairing of these two cultural topics, religion and hip hop, is an unconventional one.  Students posed an important question on the first day of class: how can a whole semester be spent studying the relationship between the two?

“It is the intersection of religion and hip hop that drew many of the students,” explains Associate Professor of Religion, Margarita Guillory, who instructs the class and is a recent addition to the Department of Religion and Classics at the University. “My hope with the class is to show that hip hop culture can serve as an interpretive framework to illustrate the religious views of the artist, including the different ways in which they view religion.”

Guillory’s active teaching style permits open and honest discussion and what she calls “reciprocity between the student and the professor.”  She wants the class to be a “safe space” for people to express their thoughts about religion.

“There is such a broad approach to religion in this course that all types of students can see how religion is illustrated. When you listen to the students, you can actually hear the personal connection with different functions of religion,” Guillory explains.

Students need not be religious or fluent in hip hop culture to take the class, which is designed for students of different backgrounds. Those who grew up without exposure to the music are “blank slates with no preconceived notions” who will “be a bit more open than the student with prior knowledge,” explains Guillory.

Guillory recently completed a doctoral degree in religious studies at Rice University in spring 2011.  Her specialties include American religious history, African American religion, and the intersection of African American religion and American culture, the latter of which is the foundation for “Religion and Hip Hop.”

Notably, there has been a recent increase in the study of hip hop culture in higher education, and Guillory hopes that the University of Rochester will follow suit.  Hip Hop archives were established at Harvard and Cornell universities in 2002 and 2007 respectively, and Cornell has amassed the largest hip hop archive pertaining to the early years of hip hop, called “Born in the Bronx,” in addition to enlisting “grandfather of hip hop” Afrika Bambaataa as a visiting professor for three years.

While completing her degree, Guillory helped teach a class at Rice called “Religion and Hip Hop Culture in America.”  The course, co-taught by visiting professor and rapper Bun B, grew from a roster of about 50 students in 2004 to over 200 students in 2011, becoming the largest humanities class offered at Rice.  This immense popularity is likely attributed to a roster of famed guest speakers, including Mike Epps and Russell Simmons, and a celebrity panel that included artists like Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco.

Guillory knew that the “context was right” in her decision to create a similar class at Rochester after her arrival last year.  The religion department was very supportive of her pursuit and aware that she had taught a similar class at Rice.  Furthermore, given the strong music education opportunities associated with the Eastman School of Music and the College’s strong music department, she knew there was a sizeable student population that would be interested in the topic.

Rochester’s academic environment, specifically the open curriculum and the students’ ability to create their own major, also inspired Guillory.  She explains that the academic freedom and the interdisciplinary nature associated with student-crafted majors “creates a space for a class like ‘Religion and Hip Hop Culture’ to exist on this campus.”

Guillory is focused on making the class at Rochester “more robust” by broadening the conception of what religion really is in the context of the “diverse terrain of hip hop culture.”  She hopes the class will show how hip-hop culture can offer an “interpretive lens” for students to analyze artists interpretations of religion and their own environment, including the “humanistically-centered ways” in which people view religion.

Guillory emphasizes that she would like the class to impact the Rochester community, and intends to “bridge the community and the U of R campus” by bringing in a local artist.

According to Guillory, “the class will not analyze ‘every dimension’ of hip hop because there are some parts of the culture that lack religious sensibility.” She acknowledges that there is “definitely a hierarchy of what is publicly displayed” in hip hop; often, popular songs capitalize on the commercialization of “braggadocious” (those who brag about the fame and wealth) artists like Jay-Z or Rick Ross.  Guillory explains, “I’m not arguing that hip hop is religious, but rather that there are certain dimensions of hip hop culture that we can tap into in a very broad way,” such as existential or socially-conscious hip hop.

Guillory was interested in religion at a young age and says she is a “product of the hip hop movement.”  In addition to teaching, she is part a collaborative writing group, “CERCL,” that is currently writing a book called “Breaking Bread, Breaking Beats,” which combines conversation with hip hop artists and the Church about common topics like sexuality and globalization.  She currently serves as co-editor of the Religious Studies Review, and has published several articles and book chapters on various aspects of religion, women studies, and hip-hop. Before pursuing her doctoral degree in 2011 and a master’s degree in theological studies in 2005, Guillory was a high school science teacher for 10 years.

Article and photo provided by Caitlin Mack, an intern in University Communications.

New Todd Production Puts Two In Spotlight

by Benjamin Mitchell ’13
Public Relations Intern, International Theatre Program

This fall’s production at Todd Theatre, Ubu Roi, has a large cast, which includes Stella Kammel ’12 (T5) and Lydia Jimenez ’13, playing Mama and Papa Ubu, respectively.  Jimenez is majoring in English with a concentration in theatre, and Kammel also is an English major.  Both have been active in the UR’s theatre community.

“During my four years in the program, I’ve assistant stage managed, assistant directed, acted, worked on the props design and construction and scenic painting crew, and participated in the Theatre in England seminar under Russell Peck,”  says Jimenez. “I am profoundly grateful for the endless opportunities afforded to me by the UR International Theatre Program and English Department.”

Kammel has also been heavily involved on campus.  She’s been cast in various plays at Todd Theatre and is member of the campus student theatre company, TOOP (The Opposite of People).  She also is a member of the Masters Swim Club (not to be confused with the Bachelors Swim Club).

Both students have favorite (and memorable) moments and roles.  For Kammel, one was the playing the role of Mitzi in An Absolute Turkey, a flamboyant bawdy Swiss-German woman.  “She was crazy!” exclaims Kammel.  “She had to wield an axe, and was required to impale it in a square board where [the props makers] had painted a Swiss cross.”

Luckily, Kammel hit the mark, bull’s-eye, every single performance.  “I love stage fright,” she says. “That’s the closest I’ve gotten to it here.”

Kammel also is a fan of accents and remembers diligently practicing her German accent during auditions, hoping to get the French sound out of it.  The character of Mitzi was particularly easy to understand, so rather than having to figure out the character, she was able to play with moments and go beyond what she would have been able to do otherwise.  On top of that, Nigel Maister, artistic director of the UR International Theatre Program, was directing. Kammel said she finds him “a lot of fun to work with.”

Jimenez notes that assistant directing Adding Machine: A Musical and closely watching professional actors in more than 25 plays in England has greatly informed her acting.  “I’ve gained an audible and visible understanding of directions and acting notes.  I take a bit of time to process and internalize, and when I’m given a direction, I initially understand it theoretically,” she explains. “Watching actors in rehearsal from the other side of the table in Adding Machine allowed me to see why things don’t work—I was able to hear when they were not being spontaneous in their continually downwardly inflected lines, and see how the actor’s gestures when performed devoid of impulse ‘look only like moves.’”

One might wonder where such a great passion for theatre might originate, and Jimenez explains that there are a lot of reasons why theatre is so important to her and why she is interested in it.  “For one, the theatre is one of the few venues I know of where wholehearted and uninterrupted storytelling can happen nowadays.  I can’t remember the last time I was able to tell a story without a listener being distracted by a text message or other media device.  In the theatre, listeners commit undivided attention to the actors, and actors communicate without disturbance.  It’s refreshing,” she says.

Jimenez also notes that she is “always moved and astonished to witness the enlivening of words on a page: on the actor’s side as they internalizes and vocalizes the text, and on the production side by the lighting, staging, sound and, often, video added to the text in production—all of the aspects that are not present in the little black marks on the page, but that the actors, director and designers conceive.”

Jimenez says that working under visiting guest artist Peter Karapetkov has taught her that these concepts are limitless.  “We are leaps and bounds now from where we were at our first table reading of the show.  Peter continuously changed the blocking, motivations and through-lines of the characters throughout the entire rehearsal process, up until the day before opening, and even slightly after the first performance,” she explains. “Some approaches worked better than others, and even though the constant reworking was frustrating and uncomfortable at times, these limitless interpretations are a celebration of textual ambiguity.”

In Ubu Roi, Kammel’s character, Ma Ubu, was difficult because it was the first time she’s had to sing, which was at first terrifying to her, but has subsequently become a really fun and exciting experience.  Furthermore, because she likes to have the audience like her, it’s very tough with this character, which is quite unsympathetic.  “I don’t like her [Ma Ubu] … well, I do like her, but I wouldn’t want to have lunch with her,” she says.

Kammel also remarks that there are many times in Ubu Roi when there isn’t a specific action the actors are required to perform and so they can just improvise with the space on stage, allowing new things to come out every show.  Additionally, everyone sings and is crazy at the end “which is a lot of fun and super exciting.”  As an added benefit, she gets to eat a lot of chocolate in the show; five pieces a night, and sometimes even six!

“Todd is so much fun and I’ve learned so much being part of the International Theatre Program,” Kammel says. “I feel like it’s not under-appreciated, but also not as well known as it deserves to be.  It should be a real source of pride on campus because everyone puts so much work into it, and at the end the productions are so beautiful. Come see the show! Go Todd!”

Ubu Roi runs through Saturday, Oct. 20, in Todd Theatre on the University of Rochester’s River Campus. Tickets are $7 for UR students; $10 for UR alumni, faculty and staff, and for seniors (55 and over); and $13 for the general public. Tickets may be purchased up to an hour before each performance at the box office. They also are available online at rochester.edu/theatre or by calling 585.275.4088.

In the Photo: Stella Kammel and Lydia Jimenez performing in Ubu Roi. Photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester.

U.S. Patent Office Publishes Patent Proposal of UR Junior

By Dan Wang
Univ. Communications

John B. Hinkel III wants to improve the mobility of quadriplegics. So he designed a device that he considers a significant improvement over anything else in the marketplace. And now, the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office has moved Hinkel one step closer to his goal by publishing his patent proposal.

The process started when he was a student at Hopkinton High School in Massachusetts. In his junior year, Hinkel developed a mouse that could be controlled by head movements and presented it at the Massachusetts State Science Fair. A panel of judges awarded him the 1st place prize. He developed the idea further and won 1st place again in his senior year. This time, his prize came with the pro bono patent services of a prominent legal office. By the end of senior year, Hinkel developed the idea and submitted an application to the U.S. Patent Office.

So what is the invention? Hinkel has developed a device that allows paraplegics to control their wheelchairs with gentle head movements. He gives a new way for people with severe spinal injuries to be mobile. Consisting of a headset connected wirelessly to a joystick, Hinkel’s device can be integrated to guide any motorized wheelchair.

“My evaluation of all the other devices was that they are cumbersome and not very user-friendly,” says Hinkel ’14, now a double-major in computer science and Spanish. “So, I decided to design a better device.”

Indeed, his invention is a considerable improvement over other products currently in the marketplace. One available product is the “Sip-and-Puff” which allows users to control their wheelchairs by blowing through a “wand” placed in front of their faces. Another device coordinates the wheelchair through a magnet implanted in the tongue.

Professor Henry Kautz, chair of the department of computer science, is a fan of the project. “John is extraordinary among our ordinarily extraordinary students. Quite a few of our undergraduates are doing original research — but not so many started in high school,” he says. “I’ll look forward to seeing him do even bigger things over the next couple of years!”

Having his proposal published does not mean that his patent has been approved, although it’s very close. Hinkel will need to go through one final approval process before he can be awarded with a patent. Asked what he’d like to do with the rights to his invention, Hinkel admits that he hasn’t thought that far. “I could start a business, or sell the idea to another company. There are a lot of possibilities.”

Hinkel will learn by April 2013 whether the U.S. Patent Office will award him with a full patent.

Article written by Dan Wang, a junior at Rochester, who studies philosophy and economics. Photo courtesy of John Hinkel.