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Marquis Scholar Katherine Rewinkel ‘03 is immersed in an intensive research project on the works and philosophies of Bertolt Brecht, a German playwright, that will culminate in a play of her own.

“My curiosity about Brecht was born from reading Galileo and further fostered by writing my own scenes about Darwin,” says Rewinkel, an English major. “The more I looked into Brecht and his social commentary in his plays, the more interested I became in his work.”

Rewinkel is being guided by Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures, for her independent study.

Lamb-Faffelberger has accepted an invitation by Austrian Secretary of Education Elisabeth Gehrer to join a “think tank” focusing on sweeping reforms of the county’s university system. Last year, she hosted 35 scholars from 11 countries at Lafayette for the sixth Annual Conference of Austrian Literature and Culture, and served a co-organizer of the conference. The professor was also part of a three-person group that established the constitution and by-laws for the Modern Austrian Literature and Culture Association, which elected its first board members last spring.

The independent study focuses on three primary plays: Mutter Courage Und Ihre Kinder, Der Kaukasische Kreidekreis and Der Gute Mensch von Sezuan. Rewinkel will also examine Brecht’s work on the aesthetics of theater and critical essays on his plays and his theory, both contemporary and modern.

Her research will be used to produce a play or a portion of one, in Brechtian style, to be performed during the Fringe festival, an annual showcase for original plays, music, poetry, performance pieces, scenes, dance, and improvisation by Lafayette students, alumni, and faculty.

“I like Brecht,” says Rewinkel. “It is partly his tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. It’s also his strong heroines.”

Rewinkel is further fascinated by Brecht’s characters and is curious to see how they help him promote a message.

“Brecht is rather ‘in your face’ with his messages,” she explains. “They’re hard to avoid. His theories on theater, both in performance as an actor and as an audience member, intrigue me as well. His characters speak directly to the audience, destroying the ‘fourth wall’ and bringing themselves and their plight into the audience’s laps.”

As an aspiring writer, Rewinkel says that she was struck by the way Brecht presented his ideas and how he delivered his message and his commentary on society.

“I’m impressed by the way Brecht’s ideas hold true in modern American society just as well as they did in German society during his time,” comments Rewinkel. “Many of the themes seem especially timely now.’’

“I love watching shows be performed, and I’ve always been curious about how things work, how things are done, how they are perceived by the audience in relation to the vision in the mind’s eye of the creator, the director, the actor, the reader. I am hoping this independent study will give me an opportunity to investigate this area.”

Lamb-Faffelberger says that Rewinkel’s greatest challenge will be the creation of the play.

“It will be very challenging for Katherine to write a play that carries or reflects Brecht’s theory of theater because it is a modern play in the 20th century making use of theory developed in the late 1920s and modified in the mid 1950s,” says Lamb-Faffelberger. “Finding the right balance will be very challenging.”

Lamb-Faffelberger says that Rewinkel has matured to the level where she wants to learn more about a subject through independent study.

“What is special about Katherine is that she is not a German major,” says Lamb-Faffelberger.

Rewinkel believes Lafayette provides a good environment for research.

“The departments provide a great opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor,” she says. “That’s one of the factors that brought me to Lafayette in the first place. I wanted to know my professors, to work with them on their interests, and have their help when I set about to follow my own. The professors have been great to work with and very supportive. I have been encouraged along the way to try new things, to challenge myself, and to me, this is the best possible way to learn.”

Rewinkel got a taste of e-business and book publishing through Lafayette’s alumni externship program last January. She shadowed Mary Beth Rosetti ’92, a book buyer for all children’s parenting and cooking titles sold by

President of German Club and the German living floor, Rewinkel is a member of International Student Association, Association for Lafayette Women, Haven (formerly Straight Edge Club), and Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection. She tutors a local high school student in German and is very active with College Theater both on and off stage. She was stage manager for The Club and will be for Two Gentlemen of Verona. Rewinkel was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most respected undergraduate honors organization in the United States, and serves as a Writing Associate for the College Writing Program.

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