Located near Gold Coast, the Newberry Library is an independent, privately operated research library that focuses on the humanities. It is free and open to the public. Founded after the death of Chicago patron Walter Newberry (opened in 1887), the library has a large variety of special collections materials that focus on European and American letters and history. According to its mission statement, the Newberry promotes and provides for the effective use of their special collections materials, fostering research, teaching, publication, life-long learning, and civic engagement.
Oh heavens, what a delightful garden for luncheon!
While spring quarter will, ultimately, be your favorite quarter here at UChicago by the time you’re done, right now it probably feels awful. You just turned in your first major thesis draft. You’re starting to feel a lot of pressure to start job searching. And you’re embarking on your last two courses here at UChicago, feeling like you will FINALLY be that rock star student who manages to read everything.
With all of this mounting pressure, we’d like to remind you to: EAT. Some things can get moved to the back burner for the next few weeks (like, perhaps, cleaning out your closet, catching up with your aunt on the phone, and washing your towels). But, alas, eating is not one of those things you can just stop doing. So, in true MAPHcentral fashion, we want to help you out. Here are a few of our favorite quick, easy recipes so that maybe (at least) once a week (please!) you can throw together a home-cooked meal.
DO NOT let this be your spring break. Unless you plan to write Anna Karenina, you won’t get anything productive done. Which is why you should come to the MAPH Thesis Write-In (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week). We just ordered the snacks today and, rumor has it, they’re phenomenal. Also, there might be some MAPH Mentor cameos at the write-in. But we don’t want to get you too excited.
We’ll leave you with this: if you’re in Chicago during spring break, you can either be at the write-in or at The Point. Those are your only options. When you’re not doing one, do the other.
MAPH Yoga Night is Wednesday, March 7th. I know that those of you who already practice yoga won’t miss this chance for a FREE yoga class. But, for those of you with some misgivings and hesitations about whether or not it will be worth it, here are some reasons why I love yoga and why it is so beneficial for you (especially during such a busy, soul-sucking time of your life).
Contrary to a recent New York Times article, yoga isn’t actually related at all to tantric sex orgies (sorry for those of you that were expecting that on MAPH yoga night). While, yes, yoga may limber you up a bit for aforementioned activities, the actual benefits have much more to do with your overall well-being and mental health.
If nothing else, one of the best things about practicing yoga is that it allows you to take a moment of quiet just be at peace with yourself and your surroundings. If you take a 45-minute yoga class a few days a week, that adds up to a few hours every week during which you have just allowed yourself to RELAX. It’s a moment to focus on what makes you feel good about being you. Even if you start yoga with feelings of inadequacy or doubts about whether or not you can keep up with the class, you will always finish yoga feeling stronger and much more appreciative of yourself. Even if you don’t feel like you got any of the poses or movements correct, the goal is that you will leave feeling satisfied at having tried it. And, you’ll have taken an hour to meditate on the development and relaxation of your physical and mental being.
Jeff McMahon (MAPH '02) and Genie Williamson (MAPH '06) at the "Making Writing Work" Panel in January
After a two-year break, The Baffler is returning this March. First published in 1988 by Thomas Frank and Keith White, The Baffler is a magazine of criticism, culture, and politics focused on “blunting the cutting-edge.” Suspended and relaunched various times since its inception, The Baffler will be back with issue no. 19 early this month, released out of MIT, in print and with online content. I got a chance to sit down and talk with MAPH alum and the publication’s Associate Editor Genie Williamson in January. Despite her frantic in advance of The Baffler’s revival, Genie managed to pay us a visit at GradUCon and shared her insights about the publication–and her own career path–on the “Making Writing Work” panel discussion.
An Illinois native, Genie accumulated a lot of writing experience in Chicago before leaving. She reviewed music for New City and You Are Chicago, which she describes as roughly “the blog equivalents of the day.” Though she initially began these reviews “almost just to get the free cover for the shows,” the writing experience eventually allowed her to move onto a more established freelance position at Time Out Chicago.
Along with other panelists, Genie expressed the importance of individual initiative, of finding a focus or specialized topic for your writing, and of networking (she got started the gig at Time Out Chicago through a friend). While freelancing, Genie had an office job at an international real-estate conglomerate, which she held for four years. According to Genie, it’s important that writers don’t turn their noses up at jobs that take the pressure off financially. As she put it, for young writers it can be useful to find jobs that “don’t take up a lot of mental space”.
Genie also offered practical advice on how writers can go about finding a focus, a tip echoed by nearly every writer on the GradUCon panel. “Writers should not be afraid to work on spec,” she said, adding that it can be better the write a story first and then search for a publication with a readership that fits.
Congrats to Genie and the staff of The Baffler. Be sure to check out the newest issue in print and online early this March. If enough current students and alumni are interested, Genie said it might be possible to arrange a MAPH discount.
Spring quarter course registration can be as anxiety-ridden or as exciting as you want it to be. Bottom line: you’re registering for your LAST quarter as a MAPHer. Yes, it’s sad. But think of all the blood, sweat, and tears that have already gone into this year and be slightly grateful that you’re coming to the home stretch.
But, with all that in mind, what should really be at the forefront of your thoughts is that this is (for most of you) the last time you will get to choose classes to take at the University of Chicago. Therefore, it is more important than ever that you choose wisely and be an active advocate for the remainder of your master’s education. A few tips to keep in mind to make sure that happens:
1. Do NOT take the easy way out this quarter. If you’re thinking that it will be nice to use your last MAPH quarter as a well-deserved break by sitting back on your haunches, then you’re not getting the most out of this year. Instead, think about this last quarter as a chance to push yourself a bit. Take a Ph.D. seminar. Take a class with that crazy hard professor everyone’s always warning you about. Trust us – you’ll be handing in your thesis at the start of 9th week spring quarter. That means you’ll have two FULL weeks to just enjoy the classes you’re taking. You’ll kick yourself if they’re boring.
We’re going into 7th week of winter quarter. Which means that you’re probably spending a lot of time in THIS awful building, which looks like nothing else on this campus (but oddly enough, does slightly resemble THIS prison!).
Okay, those are actually both pictures of Regenstein. But, the point is, this time of year, the library starts to feel a bit like a jail.
However, the important thing to remember as you trudge into week 7 is that you’re in a building with some of the BEST and most famous graffiti in the world. So, this weekend, take a well-deserved break (right inside the very walls that have started to feel like they’re closing in on you) and wander around looking for some of these gems. Maybe make a game of it and race your fellow MAPHers to see who can find them all first. Or, team up and set up an elaborate telephone chain to report your findings to anyone who isn’t willing to sacrifice the empty study table it took them 20 minutes to find. The important thing is to make as much noise as possible without ACTUALLY getting kicked out of the library. Won’t those undergrads be oh so upset that you’re disturbing their silence (muahaha).
(See the list of photos to start your scavenger hunt…after the jump…)
As some of you may already be aware, Rafael Torch–award-winning writer, teacher, and MAPH alum–passed away on December 12 at the age of 36, following a courageous four year battle with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
Torch attended the University of Chicago as a MAPH student from 2004-2005, during which time he earned numerous acclaims for his writing, including the Illinois Arts Council Literary Award. A writer of uncommon inspiration and intensity, his MAPH thesis, a memoir entitled The Garcia Boy, is an immense four hundred fifty pages, and chronicles the experiences of two families through three generations, following them as they join together from divergent origins.
Torch was also a committed and passionate educator. While teaching at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, The Latin School of Chicago, and The Meadows School in Las Vegas, NV, Rafael influenced hundreds of minds, challenging his students to rise to their greatest potential. As evidenced by some of his writing in Contrary Magazine, his students had a profound impact on his life and he cared for them deeply.
Torch’s writings have appeared in many journals including Crab Orchard Review, Antioch Review, the North American review, as well as other on and offline publications. The Winter 2012 issue of Contrary Magazine is dedicated to Torch, who documented his four year battle with cancer in the journal. Contrary editor and MAPH’s Writing Advisor, Jeff McMahon, recalls his friend:
When I learned in December of Rafael Torch’s death, I sent his obituary to friends and colleagues with a simple note at the top: “I don’t have words yet.”
And I still don’t.
When I put together a tribute at Contrary, the literary magazine where Rafael published his last writings, I borrowed a poem from Edna St. Vincent Millay—”Dirge Without Music”—to avoid writing a dirge of my own, so empty was I of music.
And I know why.
Nothing I write could approach the power of Rafael Torch’s own words, in his final months of life, as he illuminated the way, for all of us, to the doorway through which we all must eventually pass.
No tribute penned by the living could speak as eloquently, as clearly, as truly.
We could describe Rafael’s death as “tragic”—a bright soul and brilliant talent taken from us—or “untimely”—he was 36, with a new wife and a new baby—but what impoverished substitutes those words are for the vast, bottomless feeling we encounter in the stories and posts Rafael wrote himself.
I’ll just add one paragraph you won’t find in any published journals. It’s from Rafael’s last email to me. His subject line was “News.”
“so. friend. the fat lady has sung. i’m in the process of telling my friends and family that we’ve entered the absurd and very, very weird part of cancer treatment — getting ready to die. i want to start the conversation because i want it to all be rational as possible even in the radically irrational face of death. i’m a vet now. been four years since i’ve begun fighting. i’m a different man than i was four years ago when they told me i had cancer. i’m afraid, yes, most definitely, but not afraid of the things i’ll lose. lately i’m trying to wrap my head around the end. wrap my mind around the nothing. wrapping my faith around the very primal notion that there is just, quite simply nothing. wrap consciousness around the void. and so lately, i’ve learned that’s a fool’s game, too. ha! funny, funny, funny thing life is, jeff. enjoy it, man, because we really only have this one, as we are now. it’s forever, as much as nothingness or faith’s promise is forever.”
Because education played an integral role in Rafael’s life, preferred form of remembrance may be directed to a scholarship fund for his 4-month-old son, Rocco James Torch. Rocco’s scholarship fund is set up through The First Midwest Bank. Checks to be made payable to Rocco James Torch and mailed to:
First Midwest Bank
FBO Rocco James Torch
220 W Main Street
Morris, IL 60450
This is a picture of what this campus looked like last February.
That means, you should take advantage of the comparatively gorgeous weather we’re having right now, get out of your apartment and enjoy winter quarter a bit. We know that even without the massive amounts of snow on the ground it’s hard to get out to the fabulous Chicago neighborhoods when it’s a bit chilly. So, here are some things right on campus and in Hyde Park that might be fun to check out.
We, of course, have to start with the stuff that we’re hosting for you this week.
1. Open Mic Night on Thursday, February 2nd at 5:00PM: Right in your very own Anscombe Lounge. You’re all on campus on Thursdays anyways, so why not stop by on your way home to nosh a bit and maybe play a song or two on guitar. Or, better yet, sit back on a comfy Lounge couch with a glass of wine, and just let the music and literary readings of your fellow MAPHers wash over you.
2. Jeff’s Talk on Thesis Stuff on Friday, February 3rd at 12:30PM: Jeff’s giving another super useful talk on thesis-related things this Friday. If you came to the last one, you know how helpful the info is. If you didn’t come to the last one, you really NEED to come to this one.
(See other, non-MAPH hosted events after the jump)