Grace Cassutto

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Multimedia Story - Departmental Honors Presentations

On April 18, The Christine P. Tischer Scholars gave presentations on their Departmental Honors papers.

Gathered onstage in Hodson Auditorium, dressed up and smiling, the presenters waited with their roses as President Ronald Volpe, Provost Katherine Conway-Turner, and Professors Karen Hoffman and Craig Laufer gave opening remarks celebrating the students’ achievements.

“You’ve gone from dreamers to doers,” said President Volpe, addressing the 20 presenters onstage with him, “and in no small manner!”

The President is right about that – accepting departmental honors is a yearlong commitment to research and, depending on the field of study, a lengthy research paper. The departmental honors presentations provide a chance for the students to show their year of work to their peers and mentors in the form of a 15-minute speech.

This year, there were presentations in the departments of political science, economic and business administration, psychology, biology, English and communication arts, foreign language, and art and archeology. One-third of the presentations were in the field of biology.

After Provost Conway-Turner introduced the 20 presenters, the auditorium was dismissed. Presentations occurred in classrooms throughout Rosenstock Hall, with three or four presenters to a room.

In the English and communication arts designated classroom, Stacey Axler presented her Departmental Honors project, entitled “Love Letter to Stanley: Analyzing Five Films of Stanley Kubrick,” to a completely full room.

“Love Letter to Stanley…what is this about? Well, it’s about Stanley Kubrick, and if you don’t know who Stanley Kubrick is, I, to put it mildly, feel bad for you,” began Axler humorously.

It quickly became clear that Axler chose a topic that was of great personal significance to her. “Other Tischer scholars were studying enzymes or studying conflict in foreign countries, and I was studying this director that I’ve looked up to since I was 14, and it was just a really great experience for me,” said Axler.

Although she downplayed her topic in comparison to other students’ research, Axler clearly worked hard on her own departmental honors; her presentation ran 17 minutes! Even with her slightly longer presentation, Axler was not able to include everything she would have liked to address. “I would love to sit and talk to you all for hours and hours about all of Kubrick’s films, but we honestly don’t have those hours to spend, so I narrowed it down to five, five of his films that I just find to be fantastic,” she explained.

Axler’s essay and presentation focused on Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut. For each film, she analyzed three aspects that are “quintessential Kubrick,” including a protagonist that “will just screw things up and make things more complicated,” unique cinematography, and notable editing techniques.

On actually completing the work, Axler explained that she was successful because she followed the suggested schedule. “It isn’t like a class where you meet every day,” she said, “you really do have to be self-disciplined.” Axler’s final paper was 63 pages long.

Tischer scholars are not expected to produce their departmental honors paper without some guidance. Each scholar also has an adviser from their department to help them during the year. Axler’s adviser was Katherine Orloff, a communication arts professor who teaches film studies courses.

“It was 99% Stacey, and I just laid out a path for her,” Professor Orloff said of her involvement. Orloff’s role was “a bit of an editor, in the broad sense of shaping the paper. We decided very early that she couldn’t tackle every Kubrick movie, and every element. So the major problem, of course, was whittling it down into manageable pieces.”

“It was like watching the films that I love but seeing them in a way I never had before, which was cool,” said Axler on the experience of doing the departmental honors. She stated that she was glad she accepted the departmental honors; “I’ve really enjoyed the past year. What could be better than studying my favorite director?” she said.

Listen to Stacey's presentation.

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Slice of Life - Glenn Houghton

This story was published in the Frederick News Post on December 29, 2013.

Glenn Houghton, 23, doesn’t have any vehicles in his Mt. Airy garage. His garage is home to the Treehouse Printshop, a screen-printing business he started three years ago.

Houghton, a Shepherd University junior, bought the six-station t-shirt press and an array of accompanying equipment and materials from a Philadelphia print shop that was ending the printing side of its business.

Houghton gets a lot of his jobs by word-of-mouth. “We don’t have a sign out front or a parking lot, so right now I pretty much do random freelance stuff. I do a lot of stuff in the Shepherd community; there’s a lot of artists and bands and events that need fliers or shirts.”

Running a small print shop, Houghton can be picky about what jobs he takes. “I don’t have to take on all these crappy jobs that I wouldn’t really enjoy. It’s mostly fun stuff,” said Houghton.

The screens on the press are for a six-color t-shirt for Houghton’s parents’ dog act. Each screen is one color of the design, making it difficult to grasp what the final image will look like by only looking at one screen.

But that’s one thing Houghton likes about screen printing, explaining, “It’s cool to see it all go down, ‘cause you usually start with these lighter colors, and it’s really random and abstract, and then it starts to slowly come together, and then you lay down the black layer with all the outlines, and it all just immediately turns into something out of nowhere.”

The press is designed to efficiently produce large quantities of t-shirts, which is why it’s a huge six-platform asterisk-shaped contraption that takes up a lot of room in the garage, but nothing says it has to be used on t-shirts.

Houghton also likes screen printing on paper, which he says is more difficult than printing on fabric. “Fabric is really absorbent, and you can push ink really hard through a screen and it’ll just kind of absorb into the shirt a little bit…but with paper, if you push too hard, the ink just runs out, ‘cause it has nowhere to go. Paper’s only so absorbent,” said Houghton.

Screen printing on paper makes art available to people in ways that don’t exist with other media. “Basically people who couldn’t afford paintings, they could afford prints, because they would make multiple copies. There’s just less value when there’s a thousand of something, so it made it accessible to like, the everyman. And I think for me, that was always kind of awesome. I always thought that was the coolest thing about printmaking,” explained Houghton.

Beyond t-shirts and prints, the Treehouse Printshop occasionally does other screen printing jobs. Houghton said he printed ovaries on underwear for The Vagina Monologues at Shepherd. Keirstyn Fitzpatrick, 20, was at the shop working on a rebranding project for a design class.

Fitzpatrick redesigned classic book jackets, and her desire to have the books bound with linen covers brought her to Houghton’s shop. “Really the only way you’re going to get any kind of design on book cloth is to screen-print it,” said Fitzpatrick.

Houghton isn’t exactly sure what direction he’s going to take his print shop. He thinks he might open a studio that does both graphic design and screen printing, but he calls his current setup “a really awesome plan B,” adding, “I think I’d always like to be doing [screen printing], one way or another, I’m just not sure it’s going to be my main focus ten years down the line.”

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Slice of Life - Lanie Lile Holt

This story was published in the Frederick News Post on January 16, 2014.

Most of the work that people do from home doesn’t involve having human organs in their fridge. For Lanie Lile Holt, 31, of Frederick, having a placenta in her fridge is just a matter of course.

There are no seedy or illegal reasons Holt has new mothers’ placentas – Holt does placenta encapsulation for Sacred Roots Holistic Community for Women.

Fortunately, the practice of eating one’s placenta, called placentophagy, doesn’t involve any Hannibal Lecter-style meal preparation. That’s where Holt comes in – give her the placenta, and the next time you see it, it will be pills.

Holt usually ends up rendezvousing with the new father to pick up the organ. “It’s so funny,” she laughed, “Pull up next to a car, get handed a bag with an organ in it, and drive away.” Then it goes into Holt’s fridge while she turns her kitchen into a temporary laboratory, including gloves and a disposable plastic medical pad.

Before she starts the encapsulation process, Holt makes a print with the placenta as a keepsake for the parents. “We use watercolor paper,” Holt explains, “and when you print it, it actually looks like a tree. It’s really cool.”

The next step is to cut the placenta into pieces and put it in a dehydrator. Two to three days later, once the sections finish dehydrating, they go into a blender. Holt then uses an encapsulator to put the grounds into the capsules. “It helps to have [the encapsulator], because otherwise I don’t know how I’d do it!” said Holt.

People want to have their placenta encapsulated because there are many benefit that come from placentophagy. “It can reduce post-partum depression…there’s so many benefits from it. And it also helps increase milk production,” explained Holt. “In all the research I was looking at, there weren’t any negatives, it was all just positives, which is so cool,” she said.

Holt is put in contact with her clients through Sacred Roots Holistic Community for Women, a professional collective founded by Antonette Vasseur, a Brunswick resident. Vasseur’s interest in birth and women’s experiences with their communities started after her own struggle with post-partum depression after she had her first child.

Vasseur said she learned to do placenta encapsulation because “it was just another part of me really wanting to care for women in the post-partum period.” However, she said that “I’m not doing it much anymore now that I’ve got other people that do it,” one of whom is Holt. Vasseur’s role is now more of a facilitator and director. She puts women in contact with each other, rather than trying to offer all of Sacred Roots’ services herself.

“I think her vision is that she’s like a mother to mothers. She’s like this umbrella, and she gets you in contact with the right people…she’s like a community organizer,” Holt said of Vasseur. “That’s kind of where I fit in; she’s just sending people to me,” said Holt.

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Campus News Story

A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer was performed by a group of 11 Hood College students this Friday February 21 and Saturday February 22.

The performance was sponsored by the college’s Equal Sex organization as a part of its V-Day events. According to the show’s program, “V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions.”

Laura Hanna, a junior and a V-Day coordinator, explained “Equal Sex does a production every year – last year was The Vagina Monologues.” Hanna lamented over the cancellation of the V-Day event that was meant to take place on February 14 saying, “I’m disappointed that we couldn’t have V-Day because of the snow, but I’m excited for people to see [A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer]. Some of the monologues are really powerful.”

The show was comprised of 11 performances by Hood students, covering a range of topics including rape, sexual assault, familial relationships, self-image, and intersectionality. Some monologues, such as “Rescue,” performed by sophomore Joe Denicola, were heavy pieces that brought a hush over the audience.

“My baby sister, Belle, in hysterics at 10, crying to me that the neighbor whose child she babysat had been touching her in the bad place, wrong, and me confronting him (age 13) with a barbecue skewer on his patio!” Denicola cried out, collapsing into his hands, in makeup and costume that gave him the appearance of a middle-aged man.

“Joe’s [monologue] always gets me,” said Hanna, adding, “If any of them would make you cry, it would be his.”

The night was not without light moments, however. The audience was full of peals of laughter as sophomore Courtney Lapsley delivered her monologue, titled “Maurice,” about a “fat, frizzy-haired” tenth grader and her experiences with Maurice De Mayo in his uncle’s dry cleaning van.

“We walked in (well, my boobs walked in first),” Lapsley says, knowing just when to pause for the audience to dissolve into laughter.

Lapsley said the experience of being involved in the show “brought me a lot closer to people. It was very inspirational, and really opened me up to how domestic violence hasn’t gone away.”

Lapsley is right. According to the One Billion Rising website, one in three women globally will experience violence in their lifetime. That means that over one billion women will be a victim or survivor of violence. It is these statistics that gave rise to the V-Day campaign One Billion Rising for Justice, started in 2013.

According to the official website, the campaign “is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice…places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not.”

With this mission in mind, Equal Sex President Amanda Shaffery explained to the audience that proceeds from the show would be donated to the V-Day Organization as well as The Heartly House Foundation, an organization which “serves Frederick County residents who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.”

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