College Hosts Park Symposium
A portrait of the late Jan Cohn
hangs in the Faculty Club in Hamlin Hall.
At a symposium marking
the sesquicentennial of Hartford’s Bushnell Park, Trinity hosted a
group of scholars and historians in the Washington Room for Bushnell
Park at One Hundred Fifty: Legacies & Lessons. The two-day event,
which took place September 30 and October 1 and was free and open to
the public, was dedicated to the memory of Jan Kadetsky Cohn, the G.
Keith Funston Professor of American Literature and American Studies.
The program featured a keynote address, “The Paradoxes of Pluralism,”
by Harvard University Professor of English and Pulitzer Prize-winning
author Louis Menand as well as presentations and panel discussions
that included several Trinity faculty members. Andrew Walsh, associate
director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public
Life, gave a talk entitled “Immigrant Religion: The Irish, the
Italians, and the Jews,” Louis Figueroa, associate professor of
history, lectured about “The Latinos,” and Wm. Frank Mitchell,
visiting lecturer in American studies, spoke on “The African
Americans.” Jack Dougherty, assistant professor and director of
educational studies; Susan Pennybacker, associate professor history
and director of the Hartford Studies Project; and Kevin Sullivan, vice
president for community relations, took part in a panel discussion
that focused on “Hartford Today: Problems and Projects.”
“We were very happy with the large turnout and the quality of the
presentations,” says Associate Academic Dean Ron Spencer, one of the
event’s organizers. “A number of people who have been around Hartford
a long time told me that they learned some interesting and valuable
things about the park that they hadn’t known. So, in that sense, we
helped to inform our audience.”
The symposium was accompanied by an exhibit of historical Bushnell
Park photographs in the Mather art space, adjacent to the Washington
Room. The exhibit was organized and curated by Nancy Albert, a 1988
IDP graduate who is now on staff at Wesleyan University.
Professor Cohn was the main force behind the event, beginning the
process more than a year ago, and had completed most of the planning
for it prior to her death on July 1, 2004. A resident of Hartford
throughout her career at Trinity, Professor Cohn came to the College
in 1987 as dean of faculty, the first woman to hold that position. A
memorial service in the College Chapel followed the symposium.
“Jan lived in Hartford for 17 years, first on Vernon Street when she
was dean, and later downtown,” explains Spencer. “She was very much an
urban person. She came to care a great deal about Hartford, and this
kind of event—a symposium—reflects some of her deepest interests and
strongest commitments. I think she would be pleased.”
Harvard Professor Louis Menand speaks at the symposium as Ron Spencer
(l) looks on.
(photo Nick Lacy)
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