My experience in MAPH taught me the relevance of archival work and the way it breathes life into the arguments I want to make in my field. My MAPH internship made me a participant, a gatekeeper, in that archival work. As an intern in the Department of Special Collections at the Newberry Library, I have been working on the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Collection. My internship coincided with the last few months of the multi-year project of processing this large collection. My primary responsibility was the processing and arrangement of correspondence between land agents, and various parties involved in land transactions. CB&Q land agents wrote to businessmen, firms that sold land to other individuals, lawyers, small businesses, and countless hopeful farmers. These thousands of letters all deal with land transactions, but they also track a living history. In reading and processing these letters, I have been able to form a picture of CB&Q’s part in American corporate growth, as well as the development of countless small towns across the United States.
a guest post by Nicole Rea, MAPH’s 2013 recipient of the Rafael Torch Memorial Fellowship
“What makes you interested in transgender issues?” “So then, are you cis or are you trans?” As a woman perceived to be “cis” doing work that centers on issues faced by the transgender community, these are questions that I’m asked regularly. And, while they annoy me at times (okay, nearly all of the times), I understand their impetus. “Trans issues” are still viewed marginally, if at all, as serious problems in American society. Despite continued barriers to healthcare, housing, and legal resources as well as alarmingly high rates of suicide and drug use, America continues to casually misunderstand the term “transgender” and consequentially dismiss individuals who identify as such. Such dismissal has in turn created a dangerously prejudicial and at times outright violent environment in which trans folk are forced to live. Beyond all of this, I also realized first-hand in a recent medical advocacy training session that transgender persons are often unfortunately pushed to the outskirts of even the LGBTQ purview, as well. » Read the rest of this entry «
When I was an undergrad, I interned at a production company in Los Angeles. I answered phones, made sure the coffee pot was always full, battled daily with the copy machine, and was once awarded the great responsibility of driving to Saks Fifth Avenue to pick up not one, but three pairs of pants for Samuel L. Jackson. I mention this not to brag (although if you’re impressed, who could blame you?), but to demonstrate that what has really distinguished my experience as an intern at Browne & Miller Literary Associates is the fact that my summer here has been more rewarding, informative and valuable than I ever believed was possible in an internship. » Read the rest of this entry «
Reaching out to the city’s newcomers, this week’s Newcity (“The Chicago Manual”) explores life at UChicago and in the South Side. The issue features pieces by three 2013 MAPHers: Greg Langen’s reflections on the value of embracing CTA-derived anonymity, Amanda Scotese’s guide to on-campus architecture, and Charlie Puckett’s breakdown of an exciting new Hyde Park establishment. » Read the rest of this entry «
A Guest Post by MAPH’s 2013 IHC Intern
Lesson #1: If you don’t have time, make time.
Well, bombed that interview, I thought as I hurried out of the office. After twenty minutes with the Illinois Humanities Council’s garrulous Director of Programs & Partnerships, I felt that I had made less of an impression than a footprint on granite. Oh well, can’t worry about that now. One Quarter Pounder with Cheese and an overlong 6-bus ride later, I sprinted to the classroom where my precept group was meeting to deliver thesis presentations. It was late May, 2013, and I just did not have the time. » Read the rest of this entry «
Check out MAPH Alumnus Greg Langen’s (’13) reflections on his internship at the Odyssey Project. Also be sure to see the Odyssey Project’s latest issue of In Medias Res, edited by Greg Langen.
A liberal arts education is, on the graduation speech level, freedom granting. With the powers of critical thinking and a strong (passable) handle on the English language, no area of culture is barred to those with BAs and the like. MAPH free since June ‘13, I know this notion well. As a humanities masters student I am free to read, free to write, free to deconstruct the laden societal assumptions perpetuated by YouTube commercials, free to know that my notion of the obviousness of my liberal subjecthood is much more complicated than I know or can escape (Althusser fans?), free to alienate nearly everyone around me at one (multiple) point(s) in our relationship (Feel free to skip this section). However, a thing that nobody tells you while you are in the process of freeing your mind (but that all creatures of institutions secretly know) is that freedom can be suffocating. I discovered this on my first day at the Odyssey Project when my boss, the lovely and impassioned Amy Thomas Elder, sat down with me to talk about my class for the upcoming summer. “You are free to do whatever you want,” she told me. “I don’t want to get in your way.” » Read the rest of this entry «
The Odyssey Project‘s summer class just released the new issue of In Medias Res. Filled with original content by Odyssey Project students and alumni, the new issue features artist profiles, original fiction, restaurant reviews, interviews, poetry, photography and more. All work was produced during this summer’s seminar, In Media Res: Arts & Literary Publications, led by Greg Langen (MAPH ’13). » Read the rest of this entry «
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 Project provides 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.
Deborah Blumenthal (MAPH ’11) Reflects on her MAPH Internship, Curation and Academic Cross-Pollination
You could say I had a magical summer.
Being offered the MAPH internship at the Chicago History Museum had to be a nod to the absolute nerdism of my childhood – I was that kid who dragged her parents to every history museum within reach, wherever we were. I have become that adult who returns to the same ones over and over again. I was a Humanities student, but I am also a lifelong history geek, and the opportunity to intern in the Curatorial Affairs department at CHM let me do exactly what MAPHers do best: bridge the gaps. We’re cross-disciplinarians, proponents of academic cross-pollination.
I studied theater during my MAPH year, venturing out into a little bit of art history and concentrating very much on art-audience communication and relationships. I wrote my thesis on Tony Kushner’s AIDS-era epic play Angels in America, focusing on the work’s ever-changing relationship to its temporal setting: what happens when a play becomes history? I wrestled with Benjamin and his Angel of History, theories on nostalgia, and literature on historical drama. You can see the history geek peeking out. It always has. It’s a necessary marriage, I think.
More on the the internship and how it links to Deborah’s current project after the jump.