If you're looking for people with cool job titles, try Jillian Hinchliffe. The lucky lady works at the Lilly Library, where her enviable title is curator of puzzles. At this morning's Mini University session, she introduced us to the library's extensive puzzle collection, which contains everything from Rubik's cubes to interlocking magician rings.
After a brief overview of the collection, Hinchliffe narrowed her focus, discussing the use of puzzles as an advertising technique throughout history. We also looked at puzzles with political messages and wartime themes, then had time to play with a few puzzles. It was a fascinating session, but I think the most fascinating thing is that this person actually gets paid to play with puzzles and curate exhibits about brainteasers.
My next session of the day was a more serious topic: "The Impact of Race and Gender on News Coverage of Political Candidates," with journalism professor Lesa Hatley Major. No surprises here: Research shows that journalists inadvertently perpetuate race and gender stereotypes by covering stories and framing issues in certain ways. We had a pretty vigorous debate, especially about the coverage of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Next up was a session called "X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy." This class focused on IU's recent excavation of Captain Kidd's pirate ship, discovered off the coast of the Dominican Republic. We learned about the captain (who wasn't actually a pirate at all, but who was convicted of piracy in a trumped-up trial). And, we learned about the researchers' efforts to turn the wreck into a conservation area and permanent dive site.
Today's sessions offered a good mix of the serious and the light-hearted, and I'm hoping for the same tomorrow. My schedule includes classes on old-world diseases in the new world, religion and sex in America, and "star cities" of the Milky Way.