The Bard’s words spark innovation in a collaborative student project

Friday, May 26, 2017
students at table presenting their work

(left to right) Kaitlyn Sterns '17, Cynthia Holler '17 and Emma Warren '17, with professor and chair of English Rachel Trubowitz. These students created stickers with the quote “All things are ready, if our minds be so” from “Henry V.”

students presenting work
(left to right) Stefan Oesterreich ’18, Nicole Farnsworth ’17 and Andrew Porter ’20 display their project, a wall-hanging that features the quote, “In the meantime, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.”

students presenting work
(left to right) Sean Chamberlain ’17, Brian Thibodeau ’17 and Justin Feenstra ’20 show off the fidget spinners they created. The spinners “put the English department in the hands of UNH students,” they said.”

students presenting work
(left to right) Givans Moiseau '17, Peter Guarino '17 and Kaytlynn Jacobs-Brett '17 display their plaque that reads, "Sweet are the uses of adversity" from "As You Like It."

students presenting work
English professor Dennis Britton reviews the work of a student team that considered the quote "Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps" from "Much Ado About Nothing."

In Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” Duke Orsino famously says, “If music be the food of love, play on.” It’s a sentiment that could be applied to a collaboration between two English department classes this semester, though with a slight change: “If the Bard be the food of innovation, read on!”

Students in Molly Campbell’s Technical and Professional Writing class and Dennis Britton’s Shakespeare class worked together to create items incorporating quotes from Shakespeare’s works that resonate with UNH students today. The items, which included everything from wall-hangings and plaques to bumper stickers and fidget spinners, were on display at a showcase titled “How Now Wildcats,” which took place earlier this month.

The collaboration was an exercise in cross-discipline teamwork. Britton’s students chose and analyzed Shakespearean quotes that still “speak directly to people of their generation,” Britton says. The two classes then gathered for a “pitch session,” during which Campbell’s students selected some of the quotes chosen by the other class and began work on turning those quotes into physical objects.

“I asked them to produce either something that could be displayed or something that could be replicated and handed out, but the catch is they had to incorporate the quote and make it at the Makerspace,” Campbell says.

For Britton’s students, the project offered a chance to delve into Shakespeare’s works from different angles. According to Britton, the students had to analyze the chosen quotes and the context in which they were written, describe why the words still hold meaning for students and share their research with Campbell’s students.

Britton added that his students “knew how to talk to people their age. I was really impressed at how clear, precise and insightful they were.”

From there, Campbell’s students went through a complete production process that used practices based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). They wrote proposals, developed prototypes, compiled material analyses, kept logs of their production trials and created progress reports. And then they ventured to the Makerspace to etch, print and build their creations. Funding for materials used in this project was provided by a grant from VentureWell.

“The students directed their own projects. They came up with these amazing prototypes that we can continue to build on … from start to finish, it was a whirlwind,” Campbell says. “It’s a real-world exercise, with a checklist of skills that employers want.”

Stefan Oesterreich ’18, Nicole Farnsworth ’17 and Andrew Porter ’20 chose a quote from “Much Ado About Nothing” for their project: “In the meantime, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.” The quote became the foundation for a wall-hanging that depicts a meditating person against a setting sun, perfect for hanging up in a dorm room.

“The picture represents the quote in the best way possible — it’s a very meditative picture,” Porter explained. Developing the final product was not as meditative — the group had to edit the design and go through multiple tests with the Makerspace’s laser printer to get the dimensions of the wall-hanging just right.

“I had never been to the Makerspace before, so it was really cool to see that,” says Farnsworth. “It was fun that it was a student-driven project. It was very unique.”

Another group based their project on college students’ love of stickers. Chris Dunn ’17, Hannah Stewart ’20 and Anna Cristofori ’17 designed a bumper sticker that combines the College of Liberal Arts logo and the quote “All things are ready, if our minds be so,” from “Henry V.”

“If you have that sticker on your laptop, or you have it on some everyday object, it will hopefully motivate you to do that task and conquer it,” Cristofori says. “We wanted to find a design that people will really want and really use, and, obviously, college students love stickers. We’ve heard people say they want one, and that’s nice for us to hear, because that means there’s a desire and appeal for the product.”