What is A Reedie, Anyway?

Kalina Hadzhikova

History

September 1, 2015

Hometown: Sofia, Bulgaria

Adviser: Prof. Michael Breen [history 2000–]

Thesis: Rome Against the Romans: Configurations of Imperial Authority in Twelfth-Century Western Europe and Byzantium

What it’s about: The various definitions of romanitas, or Romanness, deployed in political discourse at the courts of the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus and the Holy Roman emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, as well as in diplomatic correspondence between Byzantium, Germany, and the papacy, in the 12th century. The Second Crusade had a hand in bringing Byzantium and Germany closer together and helping them cross-pollinate their historical mythologies.

What it’s really about: The cultural and political prestige of Roman antiquity at a turning point in medieval history.

Who I was when I got to Reed: To be honest I was kind of a stock character who listened to depressing music, was a slacker in school, and thought I was better than other teenagers because I read books in my room while they socialized.

Favorite class: Classics 373, Ancient History: Rome with Prof. Ellen Millender [classics 2002], combined a demanding syllabus with a topic I found fascinating: the destabilization of Roman masculinity and Roman identity in the late Republican period. The bowling PE class I took as a sophomore comes in a close second because I’ve been beating my friends at bowling ever since.

Influential book: I read Lynn Struve’s Voices from the Ming-Qing Cataclysm in the class on late imperial China led by Prof. Doug Fix [history 1990–]. The primary sources Struve has collected in this book are too vivid to be called historical artifacts; they feel more like direct encounters with the people who wrote them. This collection first made me think of historical analysis as a séance between past and present rather than as unilateral extraction of information.

A concept that blew my mind: I was amazed that you get soda refills in American restaurants. That never happens in Bulgaria. Also, the trees here are so big. The Pacific Northwest looks like a dinosaur documentary.

Outside the Classroom: Worked in the library. Sat on the International Student Advisory Board. Spent a year abroad at the University of Oxford. Organized two ’90s-themed dance parties. Coedited the Student Body Handbook. Learned Latin. Won the Lankford Award.

How Reed changed me: I made amazing friends and drastically widened my intellectual horizons, becoming a more thoughtful and empathetic person. My professors challenged me and gave me the tools to subject my own ideas to critical examination. They showed me there is value in trying to see every issue from a different perspective. Everybody doesn’t have to agree with you.

Financial aid: I’m very thankful that Reed gave me a lot of aid.

Word to prospies: At Reed a student thrives either through hard work or by being a genius. It’s truly not for everyone, but also not as scary as its reputation makes it seem.

What’s next: I’m working as a data analyst and thinking about graduate school.