Name: Maura Kanter
Year: Class of 2017
Majors: History, Theatre Studies minor
Hometown: San Diego, CA
As a History Major here at Hopkins, I am part of a fairly tight-knit community. As a Medievalist, that community narrows even more. I focus on 12th century England and France and occasionally branch out to the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period, but only when I’m feeling daring. My interest in history stems from my mildly unhealthy obsession with Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was a 12th century monarchial figure who continues to blow my mind. The more research I am able to do on her, the more I realize how incredibly badass she was. She was born in 1122 in Aquitaine, France and succeeded her father, Duke William X of Aquitaine as the sole heir to arguably the most important duchy in Europe. She married two kings, one Louis VII of France, and the second, Henry of Anjou (Henry II of England); and remains, to this day, the only person to be a monarch of both England and France. Her life continues to inspire me and motivate me to be a better historian and a better woman. But, my life does not entirely revolve around her – I am writing my sophomore thesis on Lady Macbeth. I’m choosing to examine her as an atypical eleventh century Scottish noblewoman and look at the way in which Shakespeare frames the decidedly early modern characters around her. Though not all of this, or really any of this, may interest someone besides myself, I think this kind of passion is very characteristic of a Hopkins student. We are constantly fascinated by the unknown, and perpetually intrigued by the possibility of discovery.
I am also a Theater Studies minor. When I’m not exploring the past, I am constantly finding new characters and analyzing them. I love getting new scenes and the subsequent memorization process. The best part comes after the scene has thoroughly invaded your psyche. That is when you can truly explore the character, their objectives and motivations. Sanford Meisner tells us, “Acting is behaving truthfully using imaginary circumstances.” The struggle to keep a character, a scene, truthful is constant. The only way to truly lose yourself in the character and forget your surroundings and adjust to theirs is to have so internalized the role – the lines, the blocking, etc. – so that the scene is not forced or artificial. They take over and the lines between where you and the character are begin to blend. When that can happen, and believe me it does not happen all the time, the magic of live theater can be felt.
Though to some my areas of study may seem disparate, they are interrelated on one integral point. They are both a form of character study. I love to see what makes people tick, why someone does what they do, what motivates a person to act in a specific way. History is a study of those departed, and theater is a study of those who do not exist outside the realm of the stage. Both can be somewhat hard to make tangible, but I like the challenge. I relish in the opportunity to try to decipher why Eleanor of Aquitaine went on Crusade with her first husband, just as much as I love trying to portray a complicated character like Martha from Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Click here to access more information about the History Undergraduate Program of Study.
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