Category Archives: European History

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 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

Bankwitz Lecture: “From Privy to the Statistical Archive”


By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor; History Major

The annual C.F. Bankwitz Lecture this year featured Barbara Ann Naddeo from the City College of New York presenting “From the Privy to the Statistical Archive: Political Information, Science, and the Formation of the Territorial State in the Age of Enlightenment, 1700—1815.”

Herein, I examine Professor Naddeo’s arguments regarding Galanti’s significance in his time whereas my colleague Ms. Meagher will touch upon Galanti’s role as a source of historical information.

Naddeo’s treatment of the implications and novelty of famed Italian economist and geographer Giuseppe Maria Galanti (1743–1806), who worked in the Kingdom of Naples during the aforementioned period, proved enlightening especially in its espousal of concepts on epistemology.

Continue reading

Bankwitz Lecture: Galanti as a Historical Source

By Tess Meagher ’20 

Editor; History Major

On Thursday, November 16, the Trinity College History Department held its Annual Philip C. F. Bankwitz Lecture. This year’s speaker was Professor Barbara Ann Naddeo from the City College of New York who gave a lecture entitled, “From The Privy To The Statistical Archive.” In this lecture, Professor Naddeo cited Giuseppe Maria Galanti in making her argument that statistical writings in late eighteenth century Italy played a large role in the establishment of Italy as a modern political player. Before she made her argument, Professor Naddeo went into depth on the importance of Galanti’s works as a historical source. Giuseppe Maria Galanti was born in 1743 and died in 1806, Having lived his life in the Kingdom of Naples in Italy. During his lifetime he published five volumes of a text called The Geographical and Political Description of the Sicilies. The work includes census-like information about the region at the time as well as detailed maps. The census information translates to political statistics both then and now. The information indicates what the people of the time were like both professionally and socially as well as what the rulers of the time were interested in knowing about their people since it is they who ordered the gathering of many the statistics Galanti uses.
Continue reading

Professor Kassow and Who Will Write Our History?

 

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor; History Major 


Samuel Kassow, the Charles H. Northam Professor of History and a member of the Trinity College History Department since 1972 is presently involved in seeing his book Who Will Write Our History? materialize as a documentary film directed by Robert Grossman and executively produced by Nancy Spielberg. In September of 2017, Adrian Brody signed on to serve as the voice of Ringelblum in the documentary.
Continue reading

The Life of Yergeny Yevfushenko

By: Dylan Hebert (History ’17)

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko

One of the great Russian poets of the twentieth century, Yevgeny Yevtushenko died in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 1st of this year at the age of eighty-three. A descendent of the deported leaders of a peasant rebellion, Yevtushenko was born in a small town stationed along the Trans-Siberian railway in the Irkutsk region of Siberia. In a town called Zima, or in English, “winter,” the climate of Zima is harsh even by Siberian standards, with temperatures ranging from -55 degrees in the winter to +100 degrees in the summer. In 1937 at the age of five, Yevtushenko’s family experienced great turmoil with the official declaration of both his grandfather’s as enemies of the people and their subsequent arrest in Stalin’s purges.
Continue reading

Study Away: Studying History at Irkutsk State University

By: Dylan Hebert (History ’17)

Class Photo

Class Photo

Studying abroad in Irkutsk, a small industrial city in Eastern Siberia, one of my greatest and most rewarding challenges, was taking a mainstream history class with Russian students at Irkutsk State University (ISU). While everyone has different objectives when they study abroad, for those who want to get as much as they can out of the experience, I wholeheartedly recommend that they take a regular class from their host university. Studying abroad through the Middlebury International Language Program, I had taken history and other subjects in Russian with ISU professors before, but my other classmates were also English speaking Americans from the Middlebury program. Taking a mainstream Russian history class with ISU students was much more intimidating.
Continue reading