Katrina Trask: The Gilded Age of Philanthropy


  • Khristeena Lute




philanthropy, American women writers, Arthurian legends, Faustian influence, Gilded Age New York


Katrina Trask (1853-1922) is best known for founding—both financially and idealistically—Yaddo, the artist retreat located in Saratoga Springs, New York. Spencer and Katrina Trask’s sense of service and philanthropy was informed by her love for Arthurian legends and the medieval notion of patronage, wherein the wealthy fund and support artists and writers. Trask devoted her life to serving, so much so that her own literary career has become a footnote to her charity. She began her writing career after the loss of her four young children, and over the span of her lifetime wrote essays, plays, poetry, and novels—in addition to being a prolific chronicler of events. Historical and scholarly attention on Trask should be extended beyond references to her wealth to include her literary accomplishments, not as a mere footnote but rather as an independent aspect of her life worthy of its own critical attention. In this essay, I argue that the legends of King Arthur and Faust and the ethics associated therewith directly inform Katrina Trask’s literary works and the larger notion of service throughout her lifetime.

Author Biography

Khristeena Lute

Khristeena Lute completed her Ph.D. in 2016 from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Center for Reading and Writing at SUNY Adirondack, in upstate New York. She has received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activity and the SUNY Adirondack President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her recent publications include her debut novel, Finding Grace and Grit (2021); “Choosing to be Artists: Women’s Networks in Evelyn Scott’s Escapade” (2021); and “Embracing Ambiguity: Navigating the Liminal Waters of Grace King’s ‘The Little Convert Girl’” (2019).




How to Cite

Lute, K. “Katrina Trask: The Gilded Age of Philanthropy”. New American Studies Journal: A Forum, vol. 74, Sept. 2023, https://doi.org/10.18422/74-1396.

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