The Marlboro Record

Aron grants support student-faculty collaborations

The Jerome I. Aron Fund is an endowment created in 2004 in memory of Marlboro’s dear friend and trustee, Jerry Aron, to promote collaboration between students and faculty. Grants from the endowment supported the research efforts of three students and their Plan sponsors in the spring and summer of 2013.

Going Back in Time in London

For her Plan of Concentration, senior Molly Booth is writing a young-adult novel about a girl who goes back in time to the original production of Hamlet at London’s Globe Theatre, in 1601. What better preparation than visiting the reconstructed theater with a world authority on Shakespearean theater who served on the academic advisory board for that reconstruction? With support from an Aron grant, Molly went to London with theater professor Paul Nelsen for eight days of plays, museums, castles, and a memorable visit to The Globe. 

“We saw The Globe for the first time as we crossed the Millennium Bridge to the South Bank, and I nearly began to cry,” said Molly. “It was so beautiful, so real.” Between shows of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Paul arranged a coffee date with actress Michelle Terry, who played the part of Titania. She was so enthusiastic about Molly’s book ideas she offered to give Molly a peak backstage, in the attic (known as heavens) and the basement (known as hell).

“This was a terrific opportunity for Molly to explore and examine palpable elements of Shakespeare’s world in ways that simply must be experienced,” said Paul. “She got to amble along the same streets and by-ways that Shakespeare would have traveled and orient herself to the enveloping geography of old London. It was rewarding for me to be at Molly's side, vicariously relishing the joy of learning that enthralled her.”

Deciphering California Mission Music

Allen Magana ’13 developed an interest in historical music performance through his study of renaissance lute with music professor Stan Charkey. When he chose to focus his Plan of Concentration on the music of the Catholic Missions during the Spanish colonization of California, Allen and Stan gained Aron grant support for the collaboration. The funds were needed for the digital reproduction of two historical manuscripts, Misa Chiquita de La and Music for the Burial of Young Children, found in the Santa Barbara Mission Archive Library.

“Music was a tremendous tool for conversion by missionaries in California in the 18th and early-19th centuries,” said Stan, who worked with Allen to decipher the canto figurado, the particular musical notation used by missions. “The interesting thing is that while the European influence on the music is obvious, you also start seeing indigenous influences as well. Allen did a phenomenal job of putting this stuff together, transcribing music, transcribing primary sources like the diaries of missionaries. It was a really fascinating project.”

Through the careful musical analysis of the manuscripts, Allen was able to understand the pieces within their cultural contexts and create a historically faithful rendering, which he presented in a concert last spring. “I hope that my work can benefit the academic study of early California history, as well as contribute to Marlboro’s proud tradition of incredible Plan work,” said Allen.

Revolution and Restoration in Egypt

Although the recent years of revolution and its aftermath have had a significant effect on areas of Cairo, remnants of urban development projects from the last century remain visible. With support from an Aron grant, senior Emma Loftus traveled to Cairo with art history professor Felicity Ratté last summer to examine the use and form of public space in contemporary Cairo. Emma’s focus was on the impact of political practice, specifically the socialist policies of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser, on urban redevelopment. 

“Spatial development strategies initiated under Nasser aimed at reconstructing and equalizing living conditions throughout the city,” said Emma. “Nasserist policy made attempts at eliminating exclusively elite spaces and closing stark income gaps that manifested in a fragmented structure of the city.” She and Felicity found remnants of this policy in residential buildings that house many tenants, showcasing a uniform industrial aesthetic. They also got to experience, first-hand and up close, the unfolding political drama of Egyptian desire for self-determination and the difficulties of restoration and historic preservation.

“Together we've developed the foundation for the case study that will be a key component of Emma's Plan,” said Felicity, who also pursued her own research on the relationship between the needs for both “public space” the preservation of historic monuments. “We made multiple contacts with professionals in the field. All told it was a superior example of collaborative research and we are both profoundly grateful to the grant for making it possible.”