April 15, 2005

Writers, artists develop innovative B.A. projects

Bachelor of Arts papers (B.A.s) often provoke a sense of ennui and dread in fourth-years who must write them to graduate. But not all students with B.A. requirements choose the same path. Tei Lindstrom, a third-year in the College, opted to write a novel.

"I wanted to take the classic stereotypes of men who employ prostitutes and give them individuality," she said. "I took a year off from school to just sit and write the thing through. Now I'm 21 and trying to write the thing over again. After I'm done with this novel, I'm going to write another one, and another one. I doubt I'll ever have a formal profession."

To aid Lindstrom in her lofty literary aims, a creative writing instructor, Megan Stielstra, is helping Lindstrom review her novel chapter by chapter.

"Before, getting this book published seemed a little premature, but now I do hope to find a way to get this published," Lindstrom said. "It's funny because I have this mortal fear of editors. Teachers are nicer to you. They'll tell you, ‘This could be fixed here because of this.' Editors will just tell you, ‘We can't use this now.'"

Other students are also taking alternative approaches to their B.A.s as the University extends creative license to students in its concentrations. Fourth-year in the College John "Jack" Tamburri is also an English concentrator who decided to experiment with creative writing for his B.A. after being inspired by a playwriting class during his junior year. "I realized when I turned in my final play that 20 pages wasn't enough," Tamburri said. "I wanted to move the play forward." His B.A., a play entitled Two-Fisted Tales from a Four-Colored City will be performed in the Bartlett Performing Arts Space next Saturday. The play incorporates "elements of comic books, superheroes, and homosexuality," Tamburri said.

Joe Yang, a fourth-year in the College who studies in the Committee on the Visual Arts (COVA), has already created two 3-D computer-animation sequences. He plans to submit a third sequence towards his B.A.

Yang, who has also studied economics, occasionally visits a web forum devoted to users of Maya, a 3-D animation software. "This is just so I know what's out there…a lot of these animators don't go to Chicago," Yang said. "Some of them don't even go to college. I'm planning to go to graduate school [in the arts]. But if the situation in art gets desperate…then I have econ to fall back on. And I think it's a good fallback."

Josephine Ferorelli, another fourth-year COVA major, is writing, painting, and using collages to create her senior project. Her B.A. project is an illustrated novel, "not a graphic novel," she said. The novel revolves around a female protagonist who makes "a bad political decision." "I'm trying not to illustrate the text and not narrate the illustrations…I want both elements to stand on their own," Ferorelli said. "What has really helped in the process is having a studio space to work in. I think Virginia Woolf was right about having a room to one's own." The COVA department allocates studios to declared COVA majors who choose to pursue independent projects.

Maire Daly, a fourth-year in the College concentrating in Physics, has spent the last four years working in Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) research. She is currently helping automate the instruments that allow physicists to study the universe as it was 30,000 years ago through the QU Imaginging Experiment (QUIET), a national collaboration. "I'm really excited about my B.A. And I think the sciences are awesome and very creative," Daly said. "My efforts will be used to make our detectors work for the next year or so. It's really awesome to me that students at this school can get involved in answering fundamental questions about the universe."