Category Archives: Trinity College

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!

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.

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The History of Elm Trees at Trinity

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

History Major

Neath the Ashes: Revisiting the Veracity of Trinity’s Alma Matter in the Present Day
Alumni and present students of Trinity alike will recall fondly their jovial experiences of youth whenever the refrain of Trinity’s alma matter ‘Neath the Elms is heard at various college events: “No more shall we meet, our classmates to greet, / ‘Neath the elms of our old Trinity.” The tune, first set to words by Augustus P. Burgwin, Class of 1882, is still a centerpiece of tradition amongst Trinity students and stands as a bulwark against the changing landscape of Trinity in the 21st century.

Indeed, all may be surprised to know that the majority, save a few stragglers, of those familiar elms referenced in the tune were gone by the early 1970s. Before that matter can be addressed, however, the history of the trees which became eponymous with the song must first be examined.

First in 1880 and thereafter in 1883, the Trustees allocated funds and authorized the planting of several rows of English elm trees on the Quad. The location of these earliest rows can be ascertained by the location of the trees which currently stand parallel to Seabury and Jarvis and also the rows of trees that project outward from Northam Towers.

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Celebrating the life of Jack Chatfield

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“Hartford, Conn. — After a long and spirited battle with prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease, Jack died peacefully at home on Sept. 18, 2014 surrounded by a continuing stream of family and friends, comforted by the music and companionship he so adored. He never complained about his fate. His strong will to live, sense of humor, and generosity of spirit gave him incredible strength throughout his final journey.

Jack was born in Baltimore, Md. on July 20,1942, son of Dr. Paul Oakes Chatfield and Helen Taylor Chatfield. He graduated from Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal, Va. in 1960 and from Trinity College in 1964. It was during his freshman year that his attention became riveted on the growing black student movement in the South. He became increasingly absorbed through news reports, speakers, and conversations with fellow students and when he learned that Trinity friend Ralph Allen had joined the movement and was badly beaten in Dawson, Ga., he left immediately for southwest Georgia. On his first night in Dawson he was injured by shotgun blasts fired by night riders into the house where he was staying. Jack’s involvement in the civil rights movement was passionate, inspirational, and lifelong.

Jack received his M.A. and PhD from Columbia University. From 1970-1978 he taught at the Watkinson School in West Hartford, Conn. In 1987 he began his teaching career at Trinity College which spanned 25 years until his retirement in 2012. Highlights at Trinity include the Hughes Award for Teaching Achievement in 1992, The Brownell Prize for Teaching Excellence in 2002 and organization of the SNCC conference – “We Shall Not Be Moved – The Life and Times of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee” in 1988, the first major reunion of SNCC members since the group disbanded in the 1960’s.

Jack leaves his wife of 45 years, Barbara; son, Jonathan of West Hartford; daughter and son in law Julia and Nir Levy of West Granby; grandchildren Zoe and Anya Chatfield and Mason Levy; his sister Lora from Bradford, VT who has been present for weeks providing priceless nursing and moral support; brother in law Alan Schneider in San Francisco Calif. and several nieces, nephews and cousins. Special thanks to VNA HealthCare and Jack’s wonderful hospice team.

Jack’s body will be donated for research and his ashes buried at Trinity. There will be a Celebration of Jack’s life at Trinity in the next few weeks. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Watkinson School or the Professor John H. Chatfield ’64 Scholarship Fund at Trinity College.”

Source: http://www.vnews.com/home/13640613-95/john-jack-h-chatfield

Trinity Film Festival 2012



“The festival will be held on May 5th at the nationally acclaimed Cinestudio Theater (cinestudio.org) on the campus of Trinity College. For over 40 years, Cinestudio has promoted the art of film at Trinity and in the greater Hartford area. Adopting this same spirit, the Trinity Film Festival seeks to bring together student filmmakers from the northeast and all over the country to receive the opportunity to meet fellow filmmakers and to premier their works on the big screen in front of a packed audience. Whether enrolled at a university with a large film program or one with no film program at all, we encourage undergraduate students to make short films and enter for the chance to see their films premiered in Cinestudio. An eclectic panel of filmmakers, professors, celebrities, and film enthusiasts will judge the films and award cash prizes to the winners. Ultimately, the audience will have the opportunity to vote on the grand prize winner. After the festival screenings, a red carpet awards banquet will be held for all to attend. Food and festivities will commence as the judges deliberate on the awards, culminating in the awards ceremony and a Q&A with the judges.” For more information go HERE.