Brown Logo

Office of University Communications
38 Brown Street / Box 1920
Providence RI 02912

401 863-2453
Fax 863-1650
News_Service@brown.edu

Contact Mark Nickel


Brunoniana

From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

Sophomore Masque

The Sophomore Masque began in 1907. The Women’s College Class of 1909 decided that year not to continue the “initiation ceremonies,” which the sophomores had been accustomed to inflict upon the freshmen. Upperclass students felt that a time-honored tradition was being broken, so the sophomores decided to create a new custom which would create class spirit and would be repeated by later classes. The Class of 1909 decided to initiate the tradition of a “Class Flower.” Class colors were already a fixture, with yellow, green, pink, and blue being adopted in rotation by each entering class by inheritance from the class just graduated. Since the color of the Class of 1909 was pink, the class flower selected was the rose, chosen in secret to be presented at a masque written by the sophomores, which told the story of a princess, who had been put to sleep by a witch and could be awakened only by one flower. After a character, “Spring,” called for violets, daffodils, and lilies to no avail, “Summer” brought forth one pink rose, and the princess awoke. Only women were invited – members of the Rhode Island Society for Collegiate Education of Women, faculty wives, and women students. Members of the Class of 1909, as creators of the custom, received by vote of the Student Government Association in their senior year the privilege of attending any future sophomore masques. The next year a blue forget-me-not saved a prince chained by magic, and succeeding classes presented the chrysanthemum, lily-of-the-valley, pink sweet peas, and Canterbury bell. Class “mascots” also became part of the theme of the sophomore masque. The Class of 1911 presented a Japanese doll, and proceeded to include her as “Kiko-No Hana” among the class members in the 1911 Brun Mael. The mascot of the Class of 1915 was a professor’s daughter, four-year-old Janet Benedict, who appeared in person. “Winged Victory” was the mascot of the Class of 1917. The Class of 1918 introduced the Clintonian lily, which was the class flower as its mascot. Sometimes mascots were presented apart from the masque performance, at a tea or “Mascot Day.” In 1918 the masque became part of the May Day ceremonies. The mascots became a feature of Spring Day in 1922. The presentation of the class flower was included in the masque until 1936. The masques usually had mythical themes contrived to include the class flower. The masque of 1937 was different, having as its subject the despair of the inhabitants of the world about the evils of civilization, presented five scenes (Politics, Domestic Dilemma, Recreation, Economic, Religion) and a sixth (Vision), which represented “the unclassifiable philosophers in whose minds the barriers between the preceding five phases have never existed,” who are supposed to unite the world. That presentation and several later ones were choreographed by Otto Ashermann and accompanied by an orchestra led by Robert Gray. May Day and the masque became features of the Mother-Daughter Weekend in the 1950s and continued to be held until 1967.

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.


Return to Encyclopedia Index  |  University Home Page