Why I Love History
I’m really excited for Fifth Form! I’m especially looking forward to taking U.S. History. I’m not from the States, so I don’t know much U.S. history, which I was pretty worried about at first. However, I really like history as a subject—Sacred Texts and World have been two of my favorite classes at Groton. Not only have I had the BEST teachers (Ms. Wallace for Sacred in Third Form, and Dr. Spring last year for World), but I also have really liked writing my research papers.
In Third Form, we were assigned to compare two historical inventions and weigh their value in society. I compared coinage and university, and my argument was that coinage (and the standardization of transactions) was more valuable because its value to society was more inclusive than that of universities.
Last winter, I wrote one paper on the feminism of female pirates throughout history, which I was really interested in after reading Enemy of All Mankind by Steven Johnson, a book mainly about one (male) pirate and his career, but it also featured one anecdote about Jean de Clisson. Her husband was beheaded by the French government in 1330, so she aided the British in the Hundred Years' War, terrorizing the English Channel and even painting her sails blood-red just to be more terrifying.
In the spring of last year, I compared Shakespeare’s plays to the Japanese Kabuki plays written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon. I picked the subject because while we were talking about Japan in the Edo period (1603–1868) in class one day, we talked about what was essentially a red-light district in the city, also known as the Floating World. During this time, Japan’s government was isolationist, so I was interested in how plays with similarly raunchy, taboo themes evolved on their own, in parallel to Shakespeare’s plays. The comparison proved fascinating, as I was able to analyze some of the actual (English translations) of Chimamatsu Monzaemon’s texts next to some of the Shakespearian ones I had already read at Groton. I found lots of common themes (for example, forbidden love), and I was able to learn a lot about a culture I’d been very unfamiliar with up until that point.
Besides having learned how much I love history these past few years, I especially learned last term that areas I’m unfamiliar with can prove to be the most satisfying (and important) to study, the next step being to draw connections between areas and cultures that I hadn’t thought about before. With this in mind, we’ll see how U.S. goes!