John Aboud

John Aboud

Class of 1995, America
John Aboud

Thesis Title: “My Wealth in Ivy Island”: The Use of Fantasy and Fable in the Works of P.T. Barnum

What Now: Screenwriter

What Next: Further literary and historical pursuits

Follow Me: @jaboud (Twitter)

During my thesis research, I learned that Harvard University holds, deep within its museum system, the desiccated remains of three mermaids. The shriveled, grinning cadavers are taxidermic frauds made from fusing monkeys and fish. And they’re gross. But in 1842, just such a hideous hybrid became a must-see exhibit in New York City thanks to the promotional efforts of P.T. Barnum. Though the media landscape has changed immensely since Barnum’s time, the ways in which savvy marketers manipulate it have not. In every job I’ve had since graduation -- in advertising, screenwriting and online media -- I’ve been able to apply concepts learned in distant corners of Widener and in the Houghton reading room. I’m grateful that Hist & Lit allowed me to study a topic in such depth that it continues to provide insight and inspiration. And I haven’t had a nightmare about monkey-fish monsters in months.