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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116

URI student to take passion for history, film to England
Metcalf Memorial Scholarship funds trip

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 1, 2003 -- Move over famous documentary maker Ken Burns, here comes University of Rhode Island history student Marie Ventura. With a history book in one hand and a video camera in another, Ventura wants to share her two passions with a wide audience. "Movies," she says simply, "are an excellent tool for teaching history."

Ventura will use her skills this summer when she takes her camera and her father, Louis Ventura, chair of the science department at Bishop Hendricken High School to England to focus on Hadrian’s Wall. "My father will serve as my cameraman and help carry the equipment," she explains. The 10-day trip is funded primarily by a Michael P. Metcalf Memorial Scholarship, awarded by the Rhode Island Foundation.

Hadrian’s Wall is a Roman structure, built by order of Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD. The wall, which has been modified many times, runs 73 miles from Wallsend-on-Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west. The cities of Carlisle and Newcastle are the western and eastern gateways to the wall.

It is generally agreed that the Wall, designated as a World Heritage Site in 1987, was built to mark the northern border of the Roman Empire. "It was a way to say that the empire ends here," says Ventura who commutes to URI each day from Warwick.

The honor student, one of URI’s Centennial Scholars, explains that she plans to create a 20-minute documentary focusing on the impact of the wall on native Celtic populations of northern Britannia (pre-England), concentrating her efforts on sites such as Vindolanda and Housesteads Roman Fort.

"The Wall served as more of a toll booth than a barrier," says the young historian. "The Romans were interested in Britannia not really as a place to settle but for the tribute they could get from ruling its people. They’d come to govern the island, not to displace its population. Even after 400 years of Roman rule, there was little impact on Celtic speech."

Ventura became fascinated by the Wall last semester while participating in a study abroad program at Kingston-Upon-Thames University. She plans to revisit the guesthouse by the Wall where she stayed and interview the friendly and informative innkeepers, who are also retired archaeologist/tour guides.

For the past seven years, the young scholar has been shooting and editing film and videos. She made her first film, on origami, in junior high school. She also won an honorable mention in URI’s annual film festival, Visualizations. For over a year, she has worked as an editor in URI’s Instructional Technology and Media Services Department.

Although she prefers music performed by a professional, she will never lack musical accompaniment for her films. With the exception of a few lessons at school, the URI student has taught herself to play the recorder, piano, flute, violin, cello, and glockenspiel. She is currently teaching herself the accordion and would love to learn how to play the bagpipes and the trumpet.

When asked why she enjoys history, Ventura smiles. "It’s stories. It’s real people doing real things. For example, it would be difficult to understand what is going on in our world now, if you don’t understand the Crusades."

Ventura is completing her junior year at URI and eventually hopes to become a history professor, make documentaries, and write books. Ken Burns, are you listening?

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