Category Archives: Archives and Libraries

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!

Michael McLean: Senior Honors Thesis

Michael McLean examines archives at the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Michael McLean examines archives at the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Trinity senior Michael McLean has always been fascinated by Native American history. Particularly, he sees its underrepresentation in mainstream United States history as a striking opportunity for research. A visit to the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota last winter and related coursework at Trinity motivated him to pursue a senior thesis on the impact of the Civil War on Indian territory.

McLean is also a recipient of the Colin Leroy ’10 Research Fund, which assists history majors with research-based travel and other projects.

[Editor’s Note: History@Trinity will publish soon an article describing the Colin Leroy ’10 Research Fund program, which was established in 2012 to help seniors and rising seniors conduct research for their senior theses.]  

Following a recent visit to Oklahoma sponsored by the fund, he has kindly provided History@Trinity with the following statement on his trip:

“From October 23-27, I traveled to the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City, in large part due to a grant from the history department set aside for thesis research.

My honors thesis, “We Thought We Had Some Trouble Last Year: Destruction, Survival, and Community during the Civil War on Indian Territory,” is focused on what is today Oklahoma. I am also approaching this subject from the bottom-up. Therefore, the archives in Oklahoma were extremely useful. I was able to use letters, diaries, ledgers, rosters, and war claims to better understand the everyday experiences of regular civilians and soldiers in the area, especially with regards to food, communication and seasonality.

I will specifically be looking at the surprising adaptations that were used during this tumultuous period and how people were able (or forced) to create and maintain communities for their survival.

I am sincerely grateful towards the History Department and the parents of Colin Leroy ’10, who created the research fund, for affording me this opportunity.”

The History Department commends McLean and all other senior thesis students on their hard work.

We also encourage current juniors to consider writing a thesis next year. Please contact your academic advisor and visit the application procedure page available on this website through the menu that appears at the top for more information.

Toe the Line Exhibition at the Watkinson Library

Title of Exhibit: Toe the Line School Rules in 19th-Century America

Description: School catalogs and reports drawn from the professional library of educational reformer Henry Barnard. “Henry Barnard was born on January 24, 1811, in Hartford, Connecticut. From 1837 to 1839, he belonged to the Connecticut state legislature. In 1838, he founded the Connecticut Common School journal. In 1845, he became Rhode Island commissioner of public schools. He was hired as the U.S. first commissioner of education in 1867 and resigned in 1870. Barnard died on July 5, 1900, in Hartford, Connecticut.”

Dates: June 14-August 16, 2013

Prof. Antrim’s “Mapping the Middle East” featured on the Watkinson Library’s Blog


Originally posted on The Bibliophilie’s Lair: The serendipitous discovery of COOL STUFF in the Watkinson

“Several days ago we hosted professor Zayde Antrim’s “Mapping the Middle East” class. The students pick a historical atlas and answer a questionnaire about aspects of what they see. Here is the course description: “This course approaches the history of the Middle East through maps. It will look at the many different ways maps have told the story of the territory we now call the Middle East and the many different points of view that have defined it as a geographical entity. Readings will analyze maps as social constructions and will place mapmaking and map-use in a historical context. We will relate maps to questions of empire, colonialism, war and peace, nationalism, and environmental change.””

Check out The Bibliophile’s Lair HERE.