Today is your last chance to register for Alumni Weekend and see what’s going on inside MAPH’s new journal, Colloquium.Colloquium is an online journal run entirely and independently by MAPH alumni and current students.
We’ll be launching our second issue at MAPH’s Alumni Weekend event, and it’s going to be fantastic. Issue 2.1 has Bauhaus, the Italian avant-garde, rebels and militants, sitars and soundscapes, three poets, short fiction, a cat called Mouloud, and a not-inconsiderable amount of spectroscopy.
At the University of Chicago and in MAPH in particular, we joined – for a lifetime – a community of humanists, world-changers, and fierce question-askers. We chase the ineffable and, in one form or another, we chronicle that pursuit. Those chronicles are how we talk together when we can’t talk together. When we founded Colloquium last year, it was to give a home to these chronicles-as-conversations.
The only thing better than having all these conversations happening in one online journal is having them face-to-face. Come and experience Colloquium at Alumni Weekend – or better yet, become a part of it.
Alumni Weekend 2013 is approaching! June 6-9, 2013, the University of Chicago will be holding a series of panels, lectures, and social events geared toward alumni. There are a plethora of events being put on by each division so there will be PLENTY to see and do, but we wanted to draw your attention specifically to the event where MAPHers will be making a big showing.
UnCommon Core | The Humanities Beyond the Academy: A Colloquium on Colloquium.
Saturday, June 8th
Harper Memorial Rm. 130
116 E. 59th St.
Our main event! Deputy Director Hilary Strang will be moderating a panel on Colloquium, MAPH’s interdisciplinary online journal. Colloquium‘s editing staff and contributors to the latest issue will be in attendance, and the event will include readings from the latest issue by MAPH students, alumni and friends.
Alumni Beer Garden
Saturday, June 8th
116 E. 59th St.
What would MAPH be without free food and beer? MAPHers will be making a showing here throughout the duration of the afternoon. Come by and socialize before and after the Colloquium panel.
The deadline to register is next Friday, May 31st—but space is already filling up, so the sooner you can register, the better! When you register, make sure you specifically check the box for the Colloquium event and the Beer Garden to reserve your space!
After living all over the world, from Australia’s east coast to America’s west coast and pretty much everywhere in between, the Grozdanova sisters found themselves on the premises of the University of Chicago campus about to embark on their most creative venture to date. In 2012, Biliana and Marina Grozdanova founded El Jinete Films – a documentary production company with a mission to create inspiring documentaries featuring music from all around the globe. Their first film, however, would be a tale about rock n’ roll from their very own streets of Chicago… Currently in production, “The Last Kamikazis of Heavy Metal” is a documentary about the Chicago-based band Hessler, with which the Grozdanova sisters have been on two national tours, filming their every move. A first cut of the film premiered this spring at the Bare Bones International Film and Music Festival and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary. The final version of the film will be released in the national and international festival circuit in 2014.
Marina is a graduating senior in the college, majoring in International Studies. Biliana is a 2011 MAPH-er and wrote her thesis on rock n’ roll and the music documentary. This summer, the sisters return to Spain (their second home) to premiere their parallel project, “Ortigueira: Echoes at Land’s End,” a film about an international Celtic music festival on Galicia’s northern shores. Interestingly enough, what began as another crazy trip and film venture, the Ortigueira experience inspired Marina to write her B.A. thesis on this music festival, and it has been nominated for the Adlai Stevenson International Studies Thesis Prize.
In 1926, Scottish documentarian John Grierson coined the term “documentary” while studying at the University of Chicago… Who would have thought that this fact, along with the birth of Mick Jagger, 16mm film cameras, and two little girls in ex-communist Bulgaria, would lead to the epic apparition of El Jinete Films on the UChicago campus almost a century later? Indeed, the rock doc is a genre very much ALIVE and WELL, and the Grozdanova sisters plan to feed it for decades to come!
Check out the trailer for Kamikazes above, and be sure to look out for its premiere and the premiere of Ortigueira. Do you know of a MAPH alum doing exciting creative work? Let us know!
Spring has returned to Chicago, and with it a bounty of new publications by MAPH alumni. Leila Wilson (AM ’03) and Gregory Lawless (AM ’04) each have a volume of poetry out in which the authors examine their complex relationships with the landscapes of their past and present. Read on for more information in the authors’ own words.
Leila Wilson, The Hundred Grasses (Milkweed Editions, 2013)
Leila on The Hundred Grasses:
My poems are rooted in the flatlands and lowlands: the Midwestern lawns, lakes, fields, and creeks of my childhood, and the Dutch farms, canals, and seascapes near my family’s home in Holland. Much of my poetry focuses on those instances when a space exerts itself beyond recognition, when it seems to estrange itself so that it may be renegotiated. For me this is a process of embedding my examination in the musicality of language and paying close attention to the breath of a line.
…Foreclosure compares to any book of poetry that hovers nervously in the vicinity of the fraught pastoral, simultaneously wary of and lured by it. Many contemporary pastoral poems regard themselves as anti-pastorals, or post-pastorals—they imagine that the pastoral is impossible because it’s terminally problematic, and, thus, they fret in the wake of that “fact.” The poems in Foreclosure fret differently, I guess—not by abandoning convention or reference altogether, but by manifesting what I call critical ambivalence toward them—at times embracing, and at times rejecting these things, as the poems demand. But ultimately this is a book born of familiarity with a place.
The following post is an essay written by Lara Kelland (AM’02) and her doctoral colleague Anne Parsons. Lara and Anne are frequent contributors to the National Council on Pubic History’s “History @Work” blog. Public history is a professional field that engages the tools of academic history towards the creation of public projects such as museums, historic houses, digital projects, documentaries, and the like.
” ‘MUSEI WORMIANI HISTORIA’, THE FRONTISPIECE FROM THE MUSEUM WORMIANUM DEPICTING OLE WORM’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES.”
In our last History@Work post, we charted the recent burst of academic public history jobs in the past few years. This year’s job market has continued the trend, with thirty jobs seeking either major or minor public history specialties posted on the Academic Wiki. It is yet to be seen whether this increase in job postings reflects a sustainable boom or a short-lived bubble. Regardless, this growth of public history jobs signals a visible interest in the field in dozens of history departments across the country, raising significant questions regarding the overproduction of undergraduate and graduate students in public history.
One of the major concerns of expanding public history training is that many museums and historic institutions are currently facing major budget cuts, and so we are training new public historians for a field which is under siege. As the NCPH and the wider profession continue to discuss longstanding issues of graduate training in public history, we want to suggest a broadening of public history training. Public history already trains students in research and writing, preservation, and project management among other things. By incorporating more of a public humanities approach, we could train students even more broadly for a wider array of fields. At this moment of growth, public historians have an opportunity to think about new directions, including broadening the definitions of what public history is and what it encompasses.
As young public history professionals we come to this discussion mindful of our own experiences at the master’s level, one of us in public history and the other in public humanities. Anne received her MA in public history at New York University, a program that resides largely in the history department. The program provided her with a strong skill set for museum work and public history scholarship. In contrast, Lara trained at the University of Chicago in its Master of Arts Program in Humanities, designing an interdisciplinary degree that brought together different skill sets to her museum studies inquiry. The public humanities degree at University of Chicago, for instance, allowed students to design their own degree in various disciplines, enabling students to train themselves in ways that would be useful for their intended profession. A similar sentiment was expressed at the meeting of this past year’s NCPH Working Group on Imagining New Careers in Public History, where discussion about training MAs with business skills flourished. We might greatly benefit from looking to public humanities programs as a model for teaching students transferrable skills and broad cultural approaches. In one example, the University of Chicago’s MAPH program consistently places students in publishing, journalism, and teaching jobs, as well as other cultural sector jobs in visual and dramatic arts and public humanities organizations. According to one administrator of the program, graduates of broad humanities training are well-positioned to connect ideas generated within the academy to public spaces, events, and projects.
Naomi Slipp (MAPH ’09) is a current PhD candidate in the Department of History of Art & Architecture at Boston University. As a facet of her studies, she has been planning an exhibition on American art and artistic anatomy, the topic of her dissertation research, since the spring of 2010. Directly inspired by her MAPH thesis written on the bronze anatomical casts of Thomas Eakins at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the two-month long exhibition Teaching the Body: Artistic Anatomy in the American Academy from Copley, Rimmer, and Eakins to Contemporary Artists, opens January 31, 2013 at the Boston University Art Gallery and includes over eighty works of art (many never exhibited before), extensive public programming, and an illustrated catalogue with scholarly essays.
She says of the project: “I feel inspired by artistic anatomy because these works of art visualize the uncharted and wondrous terrain of the human body, not some distant volcano or historical event, but the miraculous, complex mechanisms operating within ourselves. The study of anatomy also, historically, has brought together doctors and artists who sought to explore this corporeal space together.”
Because of this, she is also very excited about the opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration around the exhibition topic. She says: “I want to create a dialogue between these two commonly polarized fields (art and science). To that end, we are initiating collaborative programming with Massachusetts General Hospital, the College of Fine Arts, the BU Medical College & the Center for Science & Medical Journalism at Boston University, and the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. I hope to unite this diverse audience, bringing together people who are interested in art and those who are interested in medicine for a rich, shared conversation about what it means to occupy, treat, & picture our own bodies.”
Cristopher De Phillips and Laurie Ipsen in front of City Hall in Chicago
Cristopher De Phillips (MAPH 2009) arrived at UChicago as a MAPH student in 2008. Even now, he remembers cold and cloudy days in January. “I’d say to myself–’This thesis is never going to get done.’”
As Founder and Director of Chicago Welcomes Home the Heroes, De Phillips now finds himself in familiar circumstances–looking ahead to the execution of a difficult project whose scope seems to continuously widen–though the task that he’s set in front of himself can seem even more challenging. Along with co-founder Laurie Ipsen, De Phillips is spearheading the effort to plan and execute America’s largest welcome-home parade for veterans of America’s post-9/11 wars (THIS DECEMBER 15IN DOWNTOWN CHICAGO). The organization will also host a screening of the documentary film Hell and Back at the Reva and David Logan Center on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10 (6PM), with a panel discussion to follow.
MAPH students and alumni are welcome to attend all of the events.
All of this amounts to a huge set of logistical challenges that has demanded collaboration with civic, government, non-profit, and corporate interests (Chicago Welcomes Home the Heroes secured their first major sponsor in United Health Care on the day that I met with De Phillips and Ipsen here in Hyde Park).
De Phillips jokes that he has confidence that the work will get done in part because of his experience writing that MAPH thesis project–a project that likely seems less daunting when observed in the rear-view mirror.
He became interested in the idea of a Chicago parade after seeing Rachel Maddow’s coverage of Saint Louis’s event–which attracted roughly 100,000 people. It may seem like an unlikely calling for a MAPH alum–especially one without any firsthand experience of military life (neither De Phillips nor Ipsen has been in the armed forces). But this logistically complicated and emotional process has become the focus of De Phillips’s professional life during the past year. » Read the rest of this entry «
I hope this post finds all of you well. I appreciate that some of you may have time to read this, as much as I appreciate that many more of you may not have such time because you are so immersed in your zealous study of those recondite things we call the humanities. Whatever your passion that has drawn you to MAPH, whether literature, philosophy, music or art history—even classics—I trust that you respect the arduous labor of clarifying your thought as a labor of great importance. Between us, this feeling is mutual. However, in my personal experience with the humanities, the relevance of tarrying with the Platonic dialogues is something I have frequent need of renegotiating for myself. What ought I to do with my now clarified, or, more often, sublimely muddled thought? In MAPH, I was guided and fortified by the notion that my philosophizing should advance some common good. Credit that notion to all of the Socratic fan-fiction I’ve read from Plato; blame the generality of that notion to me. At any rate, Maren has graciously invited me to share how my experience in MAPH challenged me to think of how humanistic inquiry has informed my AmeriCorps service. I would also like to share how MAPH challenged me to re-think the spaces in which humanistic inquiry can flourish.
At the outset of my MAPH year last September, I was confident, though not certain, that I would find myself in a year or two attending some Ph.D. program in philosophy. At the same time, I thought it peculiar that I would have spent the past five years contemplating the common good along with my dead Greek friends, Plato, Socrates, and Marx (pretty much an Aristotelian) but doing little direct service towards forming the community I had been imagining. That said, towards the middle of my MAPH year, I became more confident that I would find myself working in some social service organization, which is just what happened. Through AmeriCorps’ Catholic Volunteer Network, I now work as a caseworker for the Guardian Angel Settlement Association at Hosea House in St. Louis, Missouri. GASA’s social services site, Hosea House, provides emergency assistance for persons and families in crisis who may need food, clothing, utilities or rental assistance. Hosea House also partners with other agencies to offer seasonal, public health, senior and back to school programs.
Tim Fosbury, MAPH ’12, reflections on the MAPH year and his internship at the Project on Civic Reflection.
Two phrases stick out in my mind from my MAPH year. First is David Wray’s assertion, during one of our first core lectures no less, that we could expect MAPH to be a sort of “P90X for the soul.” Those words stuck right away and proved correct in many ways, most of them good. Second was something I heard from various mentors, advisors, and professors. This was the idea that “as humanities scholars, it is easy to forget that we are actually a part of humanity.” That is, we spend so much time reading, critiquing, and analyzing humanity, that we often inadvertently forget to participate in it. This separation was something I tried to avoid, but during the drudges of thesis and seminar paper time – those days when I started having imaginary conversations with Cormac McCarthy and the Judge from Blood Meridian began taunting me in my dreams -I began paying more and more attention to those second set of words. So, I then started to look for outlets where I could take my academic training beyond the classroom.
I was lucky when the Project on Civic Reflection was offered as one of the internships this past summer. Based on their website and the internship description, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d be doing with the organization, but there was something that drew me to it. All I knew going in was that PCR facilitated discussions, and trained facilitators to lead their own discussions, with community and civic organizations around the country. But I soon learned that these were not typical discussions that revolved around the illusion of solving large problems in an hour or creating action plans full of empty verbiage. Rather, they were spaces of reflection on why we do the work we do, or what we expect to accomplish in civic work, with no pressure to resolve anything, but only to consider closely these larger themes. And during my internship I was lucky enough to participate in discussions that ranged from education to idealism in non-profit work to racism and segregation in Chicago. What impressed me in each discussion was how the PCR model was able to bring people together from various backgrounds and foster serious and considered dialogue.
I first heard about the Odyssey Project during a “What am I going to do with my life?” conversation with Hilary Strang, who teaches Critical Thinking and Writing to Odyssey students. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into, other than what I knew from the description on the Illinois Humanities Council website: “The Odyssey Projectprovides a college-level introduction to the humanities through text-based seminars led by professors at top-tier colleges and universities to help adults with low incomes more actively shape their own lives and the lives of their families and communities.” This sounded compelling, but my true motivation at the time was gaining some solid tutoring experience for future job applications. I began tutoring with the OP in January, which meant I hung out at Robust Coffee Lounge on 63rd and Woodlawn for an hour or two on Saturdays. To get familiarized with the students and the course content, I began sitting in on weekly U.S. history classes. During the first day, students voiced their personal perceptions of America, and I was hooked. These students were eager to participate, brutally honest, and ready to learn. Attending the classes and meeting students during the Saturday writing workshops was a learning experience for myself; not only was I reading new texts that I had always meant to read but never got around to, but I was meeting students, hearing their individual stories, and learning how the Odyssey Project was directly impacting their lives.
Although I was familiar with the OP through my tutoring experience, this internship has given me the opportunity to really dive into the inner workings of the organization and learn about the variety of often-unseen responsibilities that go into non-profit administration. I was unsure what to expect going in, so I was surprised by how much independence and responsibility I have as an intern. I feel like I am actually able to do significant work within the organization, such as developing new events and workshops to provide continuing resources to enrich and sustain the community of OP alumni. I was given the opportunity to design and lead a creative writing workshop on my own, which was the most amazing (and nerve-wracking) experience. Searching for relevant readings, developing in-class writing exercises, and leading weekly workshops of about fifteen students without direct guidance was scary at first, but I now feel much more confident in my ability to design curriculum and teach adults. But even more than that, leading the workshop was a way for me to get to know the students that this organization serves; learning their stories and hearing how the Odyssey Project has affected their lives has shown me that I am working for an organization that I can really believe in. It may sound hokey, but this mentality is quite a change from my past jobs at hair salons and property management companies—this is a job where I am actually excited to come into work to see what else can be done to help make the Project even better.
MAPH ’12, focus in American Literature
In the midst of final papers and thesis work, all of MAPH was encouraged (at the time, “harassed” seemed like the proper word) to think beyond the last harrowing weeks of school and apply to the summer internships offered through the program. Looking at the list, I was both confused and intrigued by the Odyssey Project. After I did a little research and talked to Hilary Strang, I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to combine my interests in humanities scholarship with a growing desire to get involved with the kind of socially progressive work done by non-profit organizations like the Illinois Humanities Council. After I took the Teaching in the Community College course offered by MAPH, I became more concerned with the social and economic barriers facing many adults who want to pursue higher education. The Odyssey Project tries to eliminate more of these barriers than any other educational institution that I am aware of—even covering bus fare and providing childcare during the classes.