“If you have any allergies, this is very coarse wool, so you don’t want to touch it,” warned museum Director Sarah Henrich, holding up an seam of the greatcoat.
The room grew silent as students began to move about the tables, picking up items and recording their observations on forms. Kyle Singer, a criminal justice major from New Jersey, was interested in the heavy steel helmet.
“It kind of looked like a bullet grazed the side of his head; like the person who wore it escaped death,” he said.
The two classes of students involved in the project, primarily freshmen, were reading A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway’s 1929 tragic romance set against the Italian campaigns of World War I. As the author’s writing style tends to be dispassionate and spare, Donley explained she uses real artifacts, music and writings from the era to help students fill in some of the historical and cultural context the author has “chipped away.”
“What I’m trying to do is go deeply into these works by studying the historical period,” she said. “What I’m really interested in is motivating students to do high-quality research work.”continue