Bonjour! Je m’appelle Julia.

Bonjour, Laboratoire des Savants!

Hello! I’m Julia, one of the new Makerspace student consultants. When I’m not being a smiling face at the SLab desk, I am a first year M.A.-Ph.D. student in French. I am brand-new to Charlottesville and to UVa, and so far I’m loving everything, particularly this miniature Tour Eiffel, which was my first ever 3D print!

Julia holding a tiny, black 3D-printed Eiffel Tower.

Just look at it. Seriously.

3D printing is definitely what brought me to the Makerspace, since I’m a self-professed Material Girl. This moniker describes me in my everyday life but also me as a researcher: I am obsessed with objects. The period I hope to study is centered around 1900 in Paris, which as you may know was the year the city of light hosted the World’s Fair. French Studies scholars call this period the Belle Époque, which translates literally to “the Beautiful Period.”

The Belle Époque was given its name for many reasons, but my own personal favorite has to do with the glut of extremely beautiful, refined objects created in this era. However, since I am not yet considered cool enough by Paris museums to touch and examine the extant objects from this period, I have to find another way to gain the tactile information I feel that I need to appropriately assess the value of these items. This is where 3D printing can meet my research needs in a spectacular, unprecedented way.

In my time at the Makerspace, I hope to make the untouchable touchable, and invite friends, colleagues, students, and Scholars’ Lab visitors to hold pieces of Paris’s past in the format of the future. I also hope to bring to life design ideas from my favorite artists of the period and recreate fantastical objects that were lost to history. It will be a long journey for me, as I am starting at square one with this technology, but I hope it is one I can share with all of you to help you come closer to solving your own research questions with the help of our Makerbots.

To start this mutual journey, I’d like to leave you all with a stanza from a song by Regina Spektor that addresses the consciousness of objects in a museum:

“First there’s lights out, then there’s lock up
Masterpieces serving maximum sentences
It’s their own fault for being timeless
There’s a price to pay and a consequence
All the galleries, the museums
Here’s your ticket, welcome to the tombs
They’re just public mausoleums
The living dead fill every room
But the most special are the most lonely
God, I pity the violins
In glass coffins they keep coughing
They’ve forgotten, forgotten how to sing”

Let’s free the objects from their cages and let them sing again in glorious 3D! Allons-y!

Bonjour! My name is Julia V. Schrank and I am a Makerspace student consultant here at the SLab. I am also an M.A.-Ph.D. student in French, with a research focus on material culture in Belle Époque Paris.

When I grow up I want to be a digital humanist, public academic, and cool aunt.

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