Spring 2011


The Great First Folio Caper
Flamboyant Raymond Scott transported and tried to sell a Shakespeare First Folio—after perhaps stealing it. Joining an international posse, intrepid experts at Amherst’s Folger Shakespeare Library brought him to justice.
By Roger M. Williams ’56


It’s Complicated
Let’s say you don’t believe in God. Should you still send your child to church? For this and other real-life questions, ask a philosopher.
By Alexander George


A Field Guide to Commencement
Objects to watch for on the big day
Photographs by Samuel Masinter ’04

Before They Were Stars
From “Every Kid’s Monster Handbook” to “A Performer’s Journey Around Billie Holiday,” we’ve compiled the senior thesis titles of 16 influential Amherst alumni, including the prime minister of Greece, the author of Julie & Julia and the director of The Fighter.


“I found myself reading from cover to cover”—“I trust the era of ‘hateful letters’ is a thing of the past”—“I and many other older Amherst graduates have become increasingly aghast”—And more

We understood then that life doesn’t get any better. Only we were wrong about that.
By Catherine Newman ’90

College Row
Camera in hand, Bessie Young ’11 captures the joy and pain of growing old—Richard Wilbur ’42 has a birthday party—The greatest myths about the Class of 2011—What Larry Hunter’s students do with a paint bucket and a $2 thermometer—And more

Lives of Consequence: An Update from Campus
Ted Beneski ’78 comes full circle, giving back to his alma mater

My Life
Professor of Physics Arthur Zajonc on befriending the Dalai Lama, meditating at the Mead and examining the scientific underpinnings of compassion

The greatest moment of the women’s basketball season—The squash star who’d never hit a squash ball—The swimmer who always sprints

Amherst Creates
Film: The Fighter, by David O. Russell ’81e—Fiction: The Island of Second Sight, translated by professor emeritus Donald O. White—Opera: The Britney Spears story— Nonfiction: Justin Spring ’84’s carefully documented page-turner—What Austin Sarat is reading—And more

From snowflakes to dinosaurs, a history of scientific illustration

Back Cover

A dinosaur goes to the dentist

Your dentist still uses a toothbrush? What a dinosaur. Benjamin Spencer, a collections worker at the Beneski Museum of Natural History, uses a HEPA conservation vacuum (and a simple brush) to clean the mouth of a Gryposaurus, a duck-billed Late Cretaceous dinosaur from Alberta, Canada.

How he got those shots

The cover photo by Samuel Masinter ’04 might seem to be a computer-manipulated composite, but it’s actually the real thing. Masinter posed Bessie Young ’11 in front of a Nikon F3 camera after removing the piece of the viewfinder known as the pentaprism. He arranged separate lights to project Young onto the camera’s focusing screen and to light the camera. Finally, he photographed the camera itself.

Masinter also shot the photo of Alexander George on page 20. Masinter ran the text of George’s article through a computer program that generated a so-called “word cloud”; the more frequently a word appeared in the article, the larger it appeared in the cloud. He projected the word-cloud image onto George using an LCD projector and lit George from the side with a strobe.

The portrait of Mimi Bell ’11 on page 36 is a composite image. Bell posed against the glass wall of a squash court twice—first with her squash equipment, then with her tennis equipment. “Neither Bell nor the camera moved between shots,” says Masinter, who used computer software to replace her reflection in the first photo with her reflection from the second photo.