Category Archives: Special Opportunities

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!

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.

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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.

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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.
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A Historic Tour of Hartford: A Bucket List

By: Chelsey Crabbe (History ‘17)
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As a senior inching towards graduation, I’m realizing that my friends and I still have not fully experienced Hartford. There are restaurants, events, and places still to be discovered in these shorts weeks leading up to the 21st of May. Specifically, my interest in history has largely been under-utilized within the Hartford context having never been to the Mark Twain House and many other historic locations. Trinity students never realize until the very end that Hartford does indeed have it…I’m not exactly sure what “it” is, but there is a certain charm to this place I’ve called home for four years. Especially in terms of history, Hartford was once an “it” town, a booming insurance capital, a place of both industry and creative, attracting literary giants like good ol’ Samuel Clemens. Therefore, I’ve decided to compile a bucket place of places to explore before my time here in Hartford is up. Hopefully, younger Trinity students will follow along and explore Hartford before they, too, are seniors nearing graduation.
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A Commitment to Advocacy: A Profile of Laura Lockwood and WGRAC at Trinity College

Written by: Caille Prince (History, Class of 2017)
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March and April are important months for WGRAC. The Women Gender and Resource Action Center wears many hats on campus but is known as a safe space for all. The leader of this incredible resource for students is Laura Lockwood. As the director of WGRAC, Laura is known for being an advocate, a leader and a friend. Her presence is felt throughout the year, as she is involved all over campus through different outlets. Laura’s job extends far beyond her office and lounge located behind the Washington Room in Mather. Not only does she assist the Title IX Coordinator, but she is also the coordinator of the Sexual Assault Response Team. Ultimately WGRAC is an important part of educating the campus and ensuring that everyone feels welcome and supported at Trinity.
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Guten Tag, Wein! Studying Abroad in Vienna

Written by: Callie Prince (History, Class of 2017)

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I was in High School when I decided that I wanted to study abroad. I had just returned from a Holocaust Study Tour, a trip that still inspires me today when I knew I had to travel again when I finally got to college. I wanted to climb to the top of the Acropolis, to walk around the Colosseum, and to even take a picture on the garden in front of the Eifel Tower. It was not until I arrived in Vienna International Airport, however, with my life fit into three bags, that I suddenly realized I had not thought about what it would be like to really live in Vienna for five months. I had taken the biggest leap of my life and that I didn’t even know how to say leap in German. I had chosen Vienna for my study abroad because of its culture, the size of the Trinity program and the history of the city. I had pictured myself sitting at cafés with international friends discussing art, culture, and politics. I planned to travel every weekend if I could, believing that constantly moving would really make the experience worthwhile. Yet, I had not predicted how much getting to know Vienna would be the best adventure from the classroom to the city.
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My European Experience

Tyler Wren (far left) and some fellow Trinity students in Paris who were in the same J-Term class

Tyler Wren (far left) and some fellow Trinity students in Paris who were in the same J-Term class

Written by: Tyler Wren (History, Class of 2019)

I am ever so grateful to the history department for the opportunity to travel to and study in Europe. Their sponsoring of my attendance in the new J-term course offered in Paris, POLS-209, and also providing an additional $1,000 for travel expenses, this allowed me to not only travel to Paris but also enabled me to travel more broadly within Europe itself. For example, giving me a cheaper and faster route to also visit London. Going to both London and Paris were crucial experiences for my upcoming research paper on Brexit and its implications on Europe that I will be writing with Professor Regan-Lefebvre.

Beginning with Professor Lefebvre’s class provided the perfect precursor for me on Brexit. What I learned from the primary source analyses and big-picture observances will definitely be relevant in the paper. Meeting with the media coordinator of the Delegation of the European Union was a crucial experience, providing insight into the national inner workings of the EU in France.

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Highway Problems?: A Brief History of The I-84 Project

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Downtown Hartford from above

Written by: James Barrett (History, IDP, Class of 2017)

It is a difficult task to imagine a world without highways. Every city, big and small, has multiple routes in and out. This is nothing new of course, most people have experience with highways whether they commute everyday to go to work or just drive on them once or twice a year. But it is also possible to view highways as a recent development, especially in the United States. The 1939 New York World’s Fair had a great deal to do with the development of the highways. General Motors, in a mission to sell more cars, presented their “Futurama” exhibit which depicted “modernized expressways speeding traffic through great skyscraper cities at one hundred miles per hour.” Looking back, it is easy to see how this display impressed attendees of the World’s Fair. With that said however, it is also easy to see that the relationship between highways, cars, and cities did not exactly pan out the way General Motors thought it would.
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Studying History in Cape Town, South Africa

Written by: Chelsey Crabbe (History, Class of 2017)

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I never thought that I could come to love a place as much as Cape Town, South Africa. Having arrived back home over a year ago, the memories I made in South Africa are still fresh in my mind. I spent the fall semester of 2015 participating in the Trinity-in-Cape Town program with eight other Trinity students. In terms of my academic experience, I attended the University of Cape Town, a school beautifully set into a mountain face, a setting that would greatly juxtapose the political turmoil boiling on campus. The #FeesMustFall campaign became the movement at school as the university’s students began protesting the rising student fees that barred a number of individuals from attending school. Their efforts are still at the heart of the greater goal of decolonizing the school system and continue today. Coming from Trinity, I had never seen mass student protests before especially with my own eyes. I became entranced by the students’ active political participation, a symbol of their deep value of education. As a history major, I realized that history was occurring before my very eyes, a strong reminder that Apartheid still remained a key component of the nation’s collective memory.
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