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Photo by Clayton Cotterell

Henry DeMarais ’18

History

Hometown: Tacoma, Washington

How Reed changed me: When I came here I thought I was really smart. I wasn’t disappointed when I realized that I’m not. Instead, everything became more interesting to me. This, as well as exposure to Reed’s attitudes towards education and the world, helped me learn what kind of person I want to be.

Awards, fellowships, grants: I got a grant to do research in the National Archives and visit historical sites in Mexico City. I also received a Kahan Summer Fellowship to study modern violin music in upstate New York.

Desired superpower: Immortality.

Actual superpower: The “ability” to destroy the “meaning” of simple words by enclosing them in shudder quotes.

Pet peeve: Extremism.

What’s next: I'm studying for a master of arts in teaching degree at the University of Puget Sound. I plan to teach high school history.

Thesis adviser: Prof. David Garrett [history 1998–]

Thesis: The Rise of Modernism in Postrevolutionary Mexican Art Music

What it’s about: Twentieth-century Mexican art music is unfamiliar to global audiences. The few well-known works advertise their nationalistic identities, often through references to traditional indigenous music. Although such pieces were politically popular after the revolution, most Mexican composers preferred to write in an abstract, modernist idiom.

What it’s really about: Why nationalism in art gets boring.

My first day of class: I felt idealistic.

Cool stuff: I wrote papers on gambling legislation in medieval Spain and Jesuit missionaries in imperial China. I played in the Reed Orchestra, composed a few pieces for chamber ensembles, gained the freshman 15 in muscle, and learned to love country music, SPAM®, and the Fast and the Furious franchise.

Influential book: Don Quixote.
It was hilarious, meaningful, and ingeniously structured.

Concept that blew my mind: Apparently some people still think communism works?

Favorite class: I loved the three yearlong humanities courses on the ancient Mediterranean, the Renaissance, and modern Europe. They introduced me to art and literature I might never have tackled on my own and provided the perfect basis for continued exploration.

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