Author Archives: bclark

About bclark

An active and engaged student at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut with a penchant for law and government. Further, a student who is fervently invested in fostering growth and continued progress at the aforementioned institution by way of civic and community engagement.

Senior Thesis Profile: Gillian Reinhard Talks Turandot and Tripod

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor-in-Chief 

Gillian Reinhard ’20 is the President’s Fellow in History, the Department’s inaugural Chatfield Fellow, and a senior thesis writer. History@Trinity’s Brendan Clark sat with Gillian to ask her a few questions about her thesis and her experience with the History Department.

Gillian Reinhard ’20, History Major, poses with her Tripod history scrapbook. Courtesy of Brendan Clark ’21. 

Gillian Reinhard ’20 outside of the Forbidden City, the palace in Beijing. Courtesy of Gillian Reinhard ’20.

  1. Describe your research topic in two minutes or less.

I am looking at the 1926 opera Turandot, by the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. The first part of my thesis concerns how different cultures portrayed exoticism and embraced Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism. I am applying what I have learned in the first chapter to look specifically at how British audiences perceived Puccini’s opera when it arrived in London a year later, again from the perspective of Orientalism. The relationship between Britain and China is a unique one, with a long, complicated history, and I am hopeful that an analysis of this opera can shed light on this relationship.

  1. What specific aspects of your academic career at Trinity and your personal historical interests led you to select this topic?

Firstly, I have studied Mandarin Chinese since middle school and had the opportunity to study abroad in Shanghai during the fall of my junior year. My experience abroad truly shed light on the concept of Orientalism in the West. Also, I read Orientalism, by Edward Said, in my first-year seminar “Arabian Nights” with Associate Professor of History Zayde Antrim. That text has shaped much of my academic work. I decided to look at it through the lens of opera, as it has always been a quirky interest of mine.

  1. How has the History Department assisted with your research and what does your designation as “Chatfield Fellow” offer you?

I feel that taking the courses “What Is History” and “History Workshop” have solidified my passion for complex understandings of history, as well as confidence in my research abilities to undertake a lengthy paper. The Chatfield Fellowship is named in memory of Jack Chatfield ’64, a Trinity alumnus and beloved professor. Chatfield was also a part of the Tripod while a student, which makes it especially meaningful to me, as I have been Editor-in-Chief for four semesters. The Chatfield Fellowship provides a research fund for a student undertaking thesis research. I am currently in the throes of research for my chapters on Britain and am hoping to plan a trip to London in January, which would not be possible without the fund.

  1. What challenges have you come across as you have commenced work on your thesis?

In the context of my own thesis, operatic studies are generally consigned to the realm of musicologists. One of the great things about opera, however, is that it is a wholistic art form: thus, I have been able to research costumes, libretti, settings, press releases, etc. So. although many of the secondary sources focus on the music, I have been able to examine closely primary sources and illumine more of the story. Having confidence in yourself to undertake such a significant project is also very important.

  1. What else are you up to in the world of history?

Great question, Brendan! I am working with you and other members of the department on the Trinity Bicentennial History Project. I am fascinated by Trinity’s institutional history and feel that it is our duty to become more informed about our past. Being on the Tripod has given me a front-row seat to how history is preserved and remembered at the college. As we approach two-hundred years, it is something we should be proud of, but also recognize requires deep contemplation. I love reading old issues of the Tripod and I have spent several years documenting its history, collecting clippings and writing a narrative of its past in a binder.

  1. What is your favorite aspect of the Tripod’s history?

Oh gosh, there are so many! It is incredible to look at the list of Editor-in-Chiefs of the Tripod and realize that for over fifty years of its existence, it was run entirely by men. The first female Editor-in-Chief was from the Class of 1973 and she did a great job! Additionally, the Tripod has a fascinating past: in the 1920s, the Tripod’s Editor-in-Chief was suspended for writing an editorial critical of Dean Troxell, under the administration of then-President Remsen Brinkerhoff Ogilby. It would be crazy to imagine that happening today!

  1. What advice would you give prospective history majors?

I think history is a great major! It has taught me how to write well, think critically, and argue effectively. For me, it was a no-brainer to complete my degree with a second major in International Studies. I would encourage students to explore their options and always say “yes” to academic opportunities.

  1. If you could be one figure from history, who would it be and why?

I would be Elizabeth I at the beginning of Shakespeare’s career or at the defeat of the Spanish Armada. I love the Tudors!

Trinity College History Department: Fifty Years Later

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor; History Major 

The Trinity College Class of 1969 is celebrating their 50th Reunion in June of 2019. In honor of the Class of 1969, the History Department posed for a department picture fifty years later.

The Trinity College History Department, 1969: Dr. Glenn Weaver, Mr. Ronald J. Spencer, Mr. Anthony G. Netting, Dr. H.M. Steele, Jr., Dr. George Cooper (chairman), Dr. Norton Downs, Dr. James V. Compton, and Dr. Philip C. Bankwitz.

The Trinity College History Department, 2019: Back Row: Dr. Zayde Antrim, Dr. Sean Cocco, Dr. Jonathan M. Elukin, Dr. Scott Gac, Dr. Thomas Wickman, Dr. Kathleen Kete, Dr. Samuel D. Kassow, Dr. Jeffery Bayliss (chairman). Front Row: Dr. Jennifer M. Regan-Lefebvre, Dr. Seth M. Markle, Dr. Cheryl Greenberg, Gigi St. Peter). Not Pictured: Dr. Lauren E. Caldwell, Dr. Dario A. Euraque, Dr. Luis A. Figueroa, Dr. Alexander D. Manevitz, Dr. Michael E. Lestz, and Dr. Gary Regar. 

History Course To Visit Significant World War II Locations In Japan

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall after the bombing on August 6th, 1945.

Editor; History Major 

The Trinity College History Department is offering a new course that will provide students with the opportunity to visit key sites of significant military action during World War II. Associate Professor of History and Department Chair Jeffrey Bayliss will teach the course, and Associate Professor of History Michael Lestz will join the visits, which include stops in Tokyo, Okinawa, and Hiroshima this June.

These sites, added Bayliss, each have significance to the military history of World War II and the experiences of Japanese and American soldiers. Bayliss added that “because the Japanese have memorialized the war in various ways, we can get into questions of historical and political memory” during the course.

Continue reading

A Conversation With Associate Academic Dean, Emeritus, J. Ronald Spencer

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Professor and Associate Academic Dean, Emeritus, J. Ronald Spencer

Editor; History Major 

Professor and Associate Academic Dean, Emeritus, J. Ronald Spencer ’64 has long been a fixture of Trinity College and for more than forty years taught the history of the Civil War, among other topics, in the Trinity College History Department.

While at Trinity, Spencer studied history and took a class colloquially referred to as from “Christ to Khrushchev.” Spencer notes that during his early years as a history major, United States history was relatively weak in comparison to the European canon. Spencer recalls that that changed when former Professor Edward “Ted” Sloan, Charles H. Northam Professor of History, a graduate of Harvard and Yale, arrived on the campus.

Continue reading

History Majors Awarded Prizes At 68th Honors Day Ceremony

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor; History Major

The History Department gave six awards at the 68th annual Honors Day Ceremony on Friday, May 4th, 2018. Honors Day was introduced as part of a revival of “academic pageantry” by the Thirteenth President of the Trinity, George Keith Funston ’32, in 1950. At Honors Day, all undergraduate awards–excluding those disseminated at Commencement–are given out in the Chapel (Trinity College in the Twentieth Century).

Congratulations to all the History Department students recognized for their outstanding undergraduate scholarship!

Continue reading

The History Department’s Senior Thesis Presentations of 2018

By Gillian Reinhard ’20

Contributing Writer; History Major 

On Wednesday, May 2, thesis writers from the class of 2018 presented the culmination of their year-long research projects with topics ranging from Russian Communist influence in twentieth-century China to studies of the environment on the New England coast. Each thesis is the result of countless hours of independent study and serves as a significant achievement for a history major.

The first presenter, Elenore Saunders, introduced her thesis titled “The Bluefish, an Unsolved History: Spencer Fullerton Baird’s Window into Southern New England’s Coastal Fisheries.” This project examined the bluefish, a species of fish that has historically been tied to the disease epidemics of indigenous populations in early America. Ms. Saunders also explored the negative stigma placed on the species and historical comparisons of the fish to wolves.

Continue reading

A Conversation with Professor of History, Emeritus, Borden Painter

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor; History Major 

Borden W. Painter, Jr., President and Professor of History, Emeritus

Professor Borden W. Painter, Jr. ’58, H’95, is an alumnus of Trinity and a former Professor of History, interim Dean of the Faculty, and twice interim President of Trinity College.

Painter’s time at Trinity as a student included participating in football and swimming as well as majoring in history. Painter characterized the importance of “good, close relationships” with the faculty while at Trinity as a major asset to the college. Painter was also active in the Chapel and felt that, ultimately, Trinity was a “great choice” for his undergraduate studies.

Continue reading

“Killing Order”: Talaat Pasha’s Telegrams and the Armenian Genocide–A Lecture by Professor Taner Akçam

Aram Andonian, the publisher of Effendi’s memoirs.

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor; History Major

Taner Akçam is a Professor of History and the Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian, and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. He was one of the earliest Turkish academics to acknowledge the Ottoman commission of the genocide. 

The Armenian Club of Trinity and the History Department welcomed Professor Taner Akçam, Professor of History and the Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian, and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University to Trinity on Monday, March 19th. Professor Akçam spoke on his newest book, Killing Orders: Talat Pasha’s Telegrams and the Armenian Genocide. He discussed the significance of the telegrams and their role in affirming the Ottoman governments involvement in many of the events underscoring the Ottoman Empire’s perpetration of the Armenian Genocide.

Akçam began by addressing the continuing denials of the Turkish government, who deny the occurrence of the Armenian Genocide itself. This argument, argued Akçam, rests on the supposition that there was never an official decision by Ottoman authorities to exterminate Armenians. To augment their claims, Akçam cited the two strategies pursued by the deniers: that they have consistently hidden or destroyed the bulk of documentary evidence and that they continue to deny the existence of certain available documents.

Continue reading

“Great Pleasure and Advantage”: Richard Toye and the Parliamentary Oratory of the Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Churchill

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor; History Major

Sir Winston Churchill was the subject of Professor Richard Toye’s lecture.

The Trinity College History Department had the pleasure of receiving a visit from Richard Toye, Professor and Department Head of History at the University of Exeter, on Thursday, February 22. Professor Toye is a historian of Churchill and has a distinguished career, having written a number of publications including Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness, Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches, and Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction.

In his lecture, Toye challenged us to consider other factors that influenced the decisions of Churchill’s rhetoric. One of the first factors Toye examined was the structure of the House of Commons chamber itself. In 1941, the house was bombed during the Blitz and a fervor developed over whether or not the chamber should be reconstructed. Toye described the importance of the original design to Churchill, noting that Churchill found the American rotunda design “fatal to democracy.” The intimacy of the chamber and its ability to facilitate the conversational style, which Churchill himself advanced, was critical to the Parliamentary tradition within Britain.

Continue reading

The Parliamentary Practice of the “Putting Out of the Wig”

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor; History Major

I wrote this not as an assignment but for publication here after being inspired by the mention of this practice in my Parliamentary Debate class with Professor Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre. What started as a search for an answer became an exhilarating six-hour review through the annals of British parliamentary history. 

Lord North, the Prime Minister of Great Britain during much of the American Revolution and the notorious culprit of the removal of Ellis’ wig.

On the evening prior,[1] the question was posed in a general sitting of History 270: Parliamentary Debate, a course duly held under the tutelage of one Dr. Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre, a professor of British History, inter alia, at Trinity College, as to the ambiguity of the nature of Parliamentary tradition surrounding the “putting out of the wig,” as it is so-called in the Parliamentary tradition.[2] Ergo, it stood within my earnest desires and in keeping with the general station of my inquisitive character to endeavor to establish, through scholarly review and research, the history of this unique practice. It is my hope that the forthcoming may provide an answer to this most perplexing and under-researched historical oddity in Parliament.

Continue reading