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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Meet the Intern: Thomas Williams

thomas_williams            Hi, my name is Thomas Williams and I am currently a senior at Marist College. I was born and raised in Suffolk County on Long Island where I attended Sachem East High school. I have two siblings, Brian and Katie, as well as two chubby beagles, Daisy and Heidi. My parents Carol and Tom Williams keep all of us in line and make sure that we are on the right path.  My early years introduced me to my passion for history which I continued after high school graduation. At Marist, I decided to combine my desire to learn History with that of Economics by majoring in both. This has proven to be both challenging and rewarding over my 4 years. In particular I was inducted into the Phi Alpha Theta history honors society for my work. At the same time, I may never get those sleepless nights back.

As a college student, I have been able to balance the difficulty of maintaining good grades as well as a life outside of the classroom. Many of the hobbies that I have are related to my early years during high school. As a kid, during the summer, I participated in organized sports and that passion has never left me. I currently play in both a men’s lacrosse and baseball league to stay active. When the weather gets cold, I go straight to the mountains for some snowboarding, a tradition my father has continued throughout my life. At Marist, intramural sports dominate part of my life, as I am part of both the reigning softball and Futsal champions. Other than sports, I have a strong passion for video games and the aspect of competition that comes with it. Even at the tender age of 22 I still find time to game with my high school buddies. When I am looking to relax I usually choose to watch a history documentary, which either puts me to sleep or draws me in. I find at times that I am enamored by the events of our past being played out through film.

As a college student who is going to be graduating I realize the difficulty in trying to find a job or a career right away. While the journey will be tough I no longer worry about what the future holds for me. As a major in history and economics, I see a unique situation where I can apply the tools I have gained from both majors to my own benefit. While many people are bound by the decisions they made freshmen year I feel I have the freedom to choose my path. I can follow in my father’s footsteps as a financial advisor and implement the knowledge I have of economics and the business world. Or I could choose a pathway towards the field of History, whether it be a job as a public historian or something else. My ultimate goal is to find a career path that enables me to live my life.

Meet the Intern: Meghan Jones


Meghan during her semester in Australia

My name is Meghan Jones, and I am a senior at Marist College.  This is my first semester with the Hudson River Valley Institute, and I am writing a regional history forum on Sunnyside, the home of Washington Irving.  I look forward to exploring the literary history of the Hudson Valley and the way literature inspired Irving’s vision of Sunnyside.

I hail from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and I graduated from Longmeadow High School in 2013.  At Marist, I am majoring in English with a concentration in Writing and minoring in Creative Writing and Cinema Studies.  I am a member of the Honors Program, the Deans’ Circle, and Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society.  I write and copy edit for The Circle, the on-campus newspaper, and participate in Dance Ensemble.  I am also an active member of the Marist College Singers; in fact, I served as Publicity Chairperson on the Executive Board my junior year before giving up the position to study abroad.  I spent fall of 2016 at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, where I studied editing, young adult literature, and Australian film.  During my semester abroad, I almost stepped on a snake, ate a spicy Fijian pepper thinking it was a pea pod, and made an exorbitant amount of Finding Nemo references, among other things.

Since December 2016, I have been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  After graduating from Marist, I hope to pursue a career in children’s or young adult publishing.  For my senior thesis project with the Marist Honors Program, I produced a draft of an original picture book, called The Runaway Pumpkin, which I hope to publish one day (ideally in the near future!).  I also love writing about books, music, TV, etc.  I’m a big superhero fan, and I write weekly reactions to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on my blog, Avengers of Tomorrow?  While blogging, doing schoolwork, or doing pretty much anything, I’m most likely listening (and singing along) to Bastille, Adele, or the criminally unknown indie quartet Darlingside.

The Consummation of Empire, by Thomas Cole



Image from The painting is in the collection of The New-York Historical Society.

Date: 1835-1836;

Medium: oil on canvas;

Dimensions: 51.25in by 76in

By the late 1820s, Thomas Cole had begun to develop his reputation as a successful painter of Hudson River Valley landscapes. However, by 1827 he had conceived the idea of developing a series of paintings that would depict the rise and fall of a civilization.  In 1833, Cole secured a commission from New York merchant Luman Reed to paint a cycle of five paintings for an art gallery at his home.  This allowed him to paint The Course of Empire, which presents a cyclical view of history in which a civilization appears, matures and then collapses.  The five paintings create a vivid narrative that illustrates the ever changing relationship between man and nature. The transformation of the natural landscape is a key element to story that Thomas Cole is trying to make.  Cole intended The Consummation of Empire to be the visual climax of the series, which is why he used a larger canvas and spent a considerable amount of time on its composition.  Cole wanted to illustrate a great city at the height of its prosperity.  While Cole was able to successfully create this affluent image, he intended it to be a warning instead of an aspiration.  His initial name for this painting was Luxury because he wanted to show the specific point in a society when “glory”, turned into “greed”, “vice” and “corruption”.  It is also important to note that Cole’s trip to Europe, between 1829 and 1832, greatly influenced this painting, which can be seen in the architectural structure of the buildings.  In the painting, the city is succumbing to the militaristic rule of an emperor-like figure, who is being carried across the bridge on a beautiful day.  Cole projects the image of the common man being pressed into the service of glorifying the ruler. Even nature has been tamed to accommodate him.  This can be seen with the elephant that tows his chariot. The flowers and potted plants that decorate his domain indicate man’s control over nature.  Additionally, the large fountain represents humanity’s manipulation and diminishment of natural elements.  Cole places a statue of Minerva in the background to create the metaphor that wisdom is being ignored.  Additionally, there is a philosopher on the right side of the painting, on the balcony, that is observing the scene with disapproval.  Cole’s signature is engraved on the steps next to the philosopher indicating that he feels the same way as the man.  Many scholars believe that the red-cloaked emperor is a metaphor for Andrew Jackson which would suggest that Cole is sending his audience a cautionary message; which is to be weary of Jackson’s administration.

Vinny Donatacci, Marist ’18


“Explore Thomas Cole.” Explore Thomas Cole | Interactive Tour | The Course of Empire. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

“Museum Collections.” New-York Historical Society | The Course of Empire: The Consummation of Empire. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

Meet the Intern: Vinny Donatacci

vinny_donatacciMy name is Vinny Donatacci and I am a junior at Marist College.  This is my first time interning at the Hudson River Valley Institute.  I was born and raised in Summit, New Jersey.  In 2014, I graduated from Saint Peter’s Preparatory High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. I am a double major studying History and Finance.  History has always been one of my favorite subjects in school and I am excited to learn more about the Hudson River Valley. I am on the Marist College Club Volleyball Team and was the Community Service Manager for the Business Club on campus.  This past summer, I was fortunate enough to be able to study abroad in Italy for six weeks, which was a really amazing and eye-opening experience.  My favorite place was definitely the beaches in Cinque Terre.  I am a member of the Upsilon-Epsilon chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity which was nationally chartered on campus last semester. I also work as a Student Assistant at the Marist College School of Management office and as an Intramural Referee.

In my free time, I love listening to music.  My favorite genre is classic rock and some of my favorite bands are the Rolling Stones, The Police, The Beatles and AC/DC.  I am also passionate about movies and cinema.  Some of my favorite films consist of Cinderella Man, The Godfather, History of the World Part I, and Major League.  I love watching stand-up comedians like Bill Burr, Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Lewis Black and Tom Segura.  Outside of academia, I spend a lot of time focusing on sports and physical fitness. In high school, I was on the Baseball team and ran Cross Country.   In the future, I hope to run a marathon and maybe, by some miracle, finish an Iron Man Triathlon. I love to watch baseball and will always be a diehard Yankees fan. (I’m very happy that A-Rod is gone)

After graduating college, one of my main goals for the future is to pass the CFA exam to become a Chartered Financial Analyst. I also want to pursue a Master’s Degree in African History if finances and time will allow me to.   I want to start my career working in Investment Banking and eventually become the Chief Financial Officer of a large corporation.  After working in the business world, I would like to teach history and business classes at both the high school and college level.  In high school, some of my teachers really inspired me and made me want to be the best version of myself.  I hope that one day I can inspire students in the same way that I was inspired.  I am also interested in owning my own business at some point in my life.  I have no idea what that would be, but it would be really cool if I could be my own boss.  While in pursuit of my ambitious career goals, I would also like to travel to Europe, Africa and Australia.