80 Million Calories and Counting

How Hope’s Cookies captivates Bryn Mawr College

By Clare Mullaney

A sophomore at Bryn Mawr College confidently asserts that if a man were to show up at her dorm room with a box of Hope’s Cookies she would marry him.
That’s saying a lot for a Bryn Mawr woman.
Hope’s Cookies on the 1000 block on West Lancaster Avenue is a hot spot for college students. For Bryn Mawr, Hope’s has become an integral part of campus culture.
Not only do Bryn Mawr students make weekend trips to the small shop in Rosemont, but Hope’s Cookies are served and sold in various places on campus.
Tired of processed cookie dough like Toll House and Mrs. Fields, Hope Spivak of Bryn Mawr’s class of 1983 came up with the idea of Hope’s Cookies-a business that would make all natural, high quality cookie dough-during her senior year at Bryn Mawr while having lunch with a friend from Haverford College.

Hope's M&M Special

Hope's M&M Special

By 1986, Spivak said goodbye to her initial plans for medical school and opened up Hope’s Cookies in Wayne, which a year and a half later would move to Lancaster Avenue.
Hope’s 23 year-old business is still going strong.
According to a SurveyMonkey survey of Bryn Mawr students done for this story, Bryn Mawr students eat an average of two Hope’s Cookies each week.
Apply that to the entire student body and it means that they’re consuming 104,700 cookies every year and taking in over 3.5 million calories.

Packing on the pounds

This means that each Bryn Mawr student can gain six pounds every year from Hope’s Cookie’s alone.
For most Bryn Mawr students, the extra weight is worth it for that special taste of Hope’s.
Maybe it’s Hope’s Cookies’s use of 100 percent natural ingredients and no added artificial flavors or preservatives.
Or maybe it’s that Hope’s is 35 percent chocolate, unlike most cookie dough whose primary ingredient is flour or sugar.
For Sarah Nelson, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr, chocolate is definitely one of Hope’s Cookies’s distinguishing qualities. Continue reading

Imaginative Feats

A new exhibit offers a visual challenge

By Mara Miller

When you walk into the gallery, the first thing you notice is a loud grinding noise, like gears or heavy cogs. The room is dark, but a rotating projector flashes alternating images at four large screens. On one, a child’s birthday party, then more scenes from everyday life. On another, animated lines of text. Turn around, and you see what that sound is-no gears, but an image of a giant manual stamp, like they use at a library checkout, angrily punching out dates.

This sound and video installation, called Guarded, is the first in John Muse and Jeanne C. Finley’s three-part exhibition Imaginative Feats Literally Presented: Three Fables for Video Projection, which opened Friday at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. Muse, now an Associate Professor of Fine Arts,was Haverford’s Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow last year. Finley has collaborated with Muse since 1988.

The pieces have each been shown at festivals and galleries across the country since 2003, but this marks the first time they’ve been assembled together.

The new exhibition has already generated chatter around campus for its portrayal of the ways in which Americans participate in and deal with the war on terror and our presence in Iraq through picture, sound, and text. Haverford, with its politically engaged population and pacifist Quaker roots, proves a rich launching point for Muse and Finley’s work.

Stunning…and confusing

At the gallery’s opening, the room and surrounding halls overflowed with people eager to see what the much anticipated exhibit, advertised mysteriously with camouflage-themed posters, was all about. On the next day, about 30 curious viewers returned for a more intimate talk with the artists, moderated by Andrew Suggs, Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Vox Populi art gallery.

This was a valuable chance to make some sense of the stunning, but undoubtedly confusing, set of images and sounds on display.

The text from Guarded was culled from Red Cross pamphlets discussing what citizens should do in a disaster. Muse explained that one of the driving themes of the piece was political manipulation in times of vulnerability. “We look at how people’s ability to be caring can be exploited for political purposes,” he said.

He also pointed out the simple scenes being projected intermittently, like people going to work or getting married, and their relationship to the dates and words. He said, “It’s about the very idea that a calendar can make intelligible the things we’re sensitive to.” Continue reading

The Evolution of Evolution

The scholars who were Darwin’s ancestors

By Heather Taddonio

It’s the age-old story of a true adventurer: a man enraptured by the world around him who disobeyed his father’s wishes when he accepted an offer to sail around the world pursuing his hobby in the name of science. His name was Charles Darwin.
Darwin is one of the most famed names in the sciences, but what about the evolution of the theory of evolution? Bryn Mawr College’s Special Collections Department’s exhibit titled Darwin’s Ancestors: Tracing the Origins of the “Origin of Species” profiles some of Darwin’s most influential but often unsung predecessors of natural history.
Housed in Canaday Library’s elegant Rare Book Room, the exhibition features artwork, books, and text incorporating specimens from notable – but unknown — scientists including Joannes Jonstronus, Thomas Burnett, John Gould, Erasmus Darwin, and Charles Lyell. These predecessors “laid the groundwork for our modern understanding of the nature of life on earth,” according to the exhibit.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

The exhibit, which opened on Oct. 22 and will run through Feb. 2010, was opened with a lecture titled “Disagreements Among Friends: How T.H. Morgan and E. B. Wilson’s Agreeing to Disagree Helped Establish Genetics and the Modern Synthesis” by Swarthmore biology professor Scott Gilbert.
Lost in the science-speak? Gilbert’s lecture hits close to home: Wilson and Morgan were Bryn Mawr’s two first biology professors and were prominent players in the 20th century evolution debates.

Darwin’s ancestors

Darwin’s Ancestors is curated by Director of Library Collections Eric Pumroy, art history graduate student Angelique Wille, and undergraduate medieval studies major Marybeth Matlack. The exhibit coincides with the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of his celebrated book On the Origin of Species. Continue reading

Three Profiles

The English House Gazette opens the 2009 fall semester with three profiles:

Harper Hubbeling, whose beat is science, profiles Haverford Professor Jennifer Hunt, who is a leading researcher into immunology.

Clare Mullaney offers a piece on English Professor Kate Thomas of Bryn Mawr College, who is engaged in food studies and literature.

Kulia Wooddell, whose beat is about greening and sustainability, writes about Claudia Kent, the innovative grounds manager at Haverford College.

The Creative Life of Jenni Punt

The Haverford professor is on a mission of discovery

By Harper Hubbeling

Jennifer Punt wanted to grow up to be a writer.
“My dream in life was to be a novelist,” said Punt, leaning back in her chair to glance into the lab adjoining her office on the second story of the Koshland Integrated Natural Science Center at Haverford College.
Punt, 48, is no novelist. She is a biology professor and researcher at Haverford. Her lab studies immunology, looking at the development of thymocytes, a type of white blood cell critical to the body’s immune response.
Punt said she was, “very shy,” and, “very nerdy,” as a kid and that she was always, “very bad at following directions and learning a body of something that was already defined.”punt
“I just wasn’t that interested,” Punt said.
What did interest Punt?
“Since I was very little, I wanted to discover something,” Punt said. She recalls playing piano as a girl, slamming her hands down on the keys with the intense frustration of, “just wanting to discover something,” and not knowing how.
Punt was an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College from 1979 to 1983. She went on to get a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine her the University of Pennsylvania. In 1996, just 13 years after leaving the Bi-co, she returned, beginning her teaching and research career at Haverford.

Her mission: discovery
At Haverford, Punt’s job description includes, “discovering something.”
“I couldn’t imagine a better job,” she said, “what more could I ask for than to be able to figure things out… I can be very excited by knowing that I know something new.”
And what is Punt is discovering? Continue reading

What if Keats Ate Kit Kat’s?

Professor Kate Thomas on food & literature

By Clare Mullaney


In Bryn Mawr College’s English department, novelist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley isn’t just a great writer, but a vegetarian. 

This is how Kate Thomas, an associate professor of English at Bryn Mawr, describes the 19th century author.  She brought her interest in food studies to the college in 2005 with the creation of a class entitled “Eating Culture:  Britain and Food 1789-1929,” which explores the role of food in English literature, specifically highlighting food’s effect on power, politics and trade. 

Primarily a Victorianist and a critical and cultural theorist, Thomas found her interest in food studies later in her career after graduating from Cornell University Graduate School in 1996. 

She later returned to Oxford University, where she had studied as an undergraduate, to get her doctorate in English Literature in 2003.  kate-thomas

Thomas had been doing reading about how food hadn’t received much attention in the academic world and decided to incorporate food into her study of literature. 

Food studies is a relative new academic subject, said Thomas, but it encompasses many different disciplines, ranging anywhere from anthropology, to botany, to history, to English. 

Nonetheless, food studies tend to focus more on the social sciences than on literature, something that Thomas hopes to change through her own studies and teaching.



Eating Culture

Thomas emphasizes the importance of academic study in assessing cultural issues such as food. 

“If we don’t have scholarship, we’re missing a vital piece of how to culturally work together,” she said. Continue reading

The Green Mission of Claudia Kent

The woman who helps make Haverford green

By Kulia Woodell

There is nothing that Claudia Kent likes better than to romp around outdoors and play in the dirt.
A woman who is clearly more comfortable assessing tree health and poking around in the perennial beds than sitting at a desk, Kent is Haverford College’s grounds manager and sustainability officer.
“I do a little bit of everything,” Kent says, laying down a long list of her daily duties. She is in charge of maintaining the athletic fields, mowing the grass, repairing washouts on the Nature Trail, and caring for the on-campus flora.
As the main player in the ‘greening’ of Haverford, she works with students to compost waste from the dining center for use in the student garden on campus.
“This year the garden gave us tomatoes, potatoes, beets, green peppers, and pounds of green beans,” Kent said. “Haverford is historically a farming school. We’ve kind of gotten away from that now, but I’m working on proposals for a big campus farm.”haverford-green-1
She finds a new enthusiasm in talking about the Bur Oak next to Magill Library. “It’s 175 years old, and they can live to be 500,” she said. “I just love the trees. I think Haverford has amazing trees.”
Walking through the fall colors, or, as Kent specifies, the reds of the Sugar Maples and the golds of the Honey Locusts, she recalls growing up in rural England. “I was always outside building forts and playing in the fields and river,” Kent said. Continue reading