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.”
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.
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.
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.