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Rachel Gilbert ’11

History and Theatre, Performance emphasis  |  Sykesville, Md.

"I Was Made That Way, Can't Help It:
The Impact of Consumerism, Liberalism, and Imperial Culture on Weimar Cabaret.”

Rachel GilbertThe Paper:

My essay focuses on cabarets in Berlin from the turn of the century to the end of the 1930s. In the essay, I analyze how the changing culture of Berlin affected the way cabarets were presented. I argue that the drive for profit forced cabarets to compromise their liberal aspirations with conservative realities. It’s fun stuff.

I got the idea for this paper from The Dresden Dolls, a duo from Boston who create amazing music. They have a term “Punk Cabaret” that they throw about, and it seemed like an interesting idea to pursue. My final topic—consumerism and censorship—came from the reading I did throughout the summer and the semester.


The Sponsor: David Imhoof, Ph.D., associate professor of history

I liked working with Dr. Imhoof. I’d already taken his European History class, so I knew his expectations for my writing. His specialization in German interwar history didn’t hurt matters either. 


The Process:

I started my research during the summer, reading two books recommended to me by Dr. Imhoof. Throughout the course of the semester, I think I used about twenty different sources: books, articles, essays and scripts. I read and read and read.

When it came time to write, I outlined my ideas, pulled some quotes, and went at it. I would talk with Dr. Imhoof after each draft to discuss what improvements could be made, what things could be eliminated, etc. Then I would make those improvements and do more research as needed.


The Reward:

When I started my essay, I was a bit apprehensive about the process. I’m used to writing papers in about a week. Writing a paper over a whole semester seemed a bit intimidating. Now that I’ve reached the light, though, I’ve found my experiences have been mostly positive. I think I’ve become a better writer, especially in the areas of structure and incorporating outside sources to my benefit. The information that I found was also quite interesting, so it’s nice to walk away with an appreciation for that too.

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