Thoughts on Your First Week –or– Read this if you are feeling concerns of any kind because it is really going to be okay.

October 2nd, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

It was a big moment, that first week of classes at University of Chicago. I’d made my way through the first baby deer-like steps of Colloquium, and was now ready to romp through the fields of academe unaided and unattended, happy as the springtime. I hope you’re gleefully romping, too, though some Bambi-stumbles are still par for the course and nothing to worry about. In order to maintain your inner springtime in the face of a Chicago autumn, please find herein some thoughts on navigating Week One of Quarter One of Year One of the Rest of Your Life. » Read the rest of this entry «

FAQ: Several things that I wish someone had told me (or that I had listened to when they did) before I started MAPH.

September 11th, 2012 § 4 comments § permalink

Halloo, MAPH!

MAPH Central has been abuzz with new students, and it has been heartwarming to see the bonds of friendship being forged.

We have entertained and overheard a number of questions from you, and herein we will endeavor to answer those questions, as well as several questions we will save you the difficulty of having to ask. Let us begin! (Don’t forget the official FAQ, too!)

• I’d like to email/talk to Professor So-and-So. How should I go about that?

» Read the rest of this entry «

Ph.D. Application Advice Panel: What To Take Away

May 21st, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

Thanks to all who joined us last week for the Ph.D. Application Advice Panel. I hope you found the information useful as you all mull over potential future endeavors. For those of you who missed the panel (or for those who were there but far too burned out to retain anything), I thought I’d do a blog re-cap of the major advice points from the faculty that participated.

Before getting into the actual advice, though, one thing that all of the participating faculty agreed on is that you should get a lot of advice at every stage of your application process. So, the information from the panel is by no means an exhaustive list of things to consider or a fixed doctrine of must-do tasks. Think of this, rather, as a starting pool of advice from various disciplines that will help you begin the process on the right foot.

(Lots of advice…after the jump)

» Read the rest of this entry «

Registration and Class Shopping

September 19th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

You’ve all gotten emails with online registration instructions and most of you are probably eager to get your classes in order. Chances are you’ll see something that looks interesting and getting into the class will not be a problem, but here’s some information about the registration process and the whole Add/Drop period that you can use to maximize your options.

» Read the rest of this entry «

The Enlightened Beginner: Precept Group

September 14th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

The start of your first precept group meeting can be one of those moments in which the worry-centers of your brain start firing on all cylinders. It can be intimidating to walk into a room full of extraordinarily bright individuals, many of whom will seem to have a complete picture of how their entire year will go. They may talk about the number of thesis pages they’ve already written, the number of emails they’ve sent to potential advisors they’re “excited to work with,” and that they spent the summer (re)reading Thousand Plateaus (twice).

All of these things happened in my first precept meeting. BUT FEAR NOT!

Here’s the deal with the French girl. As David suggested the other day in lecture, you should cultivate the perspective of the Enlightened Beginner–someone who’s pretty jazzed about new ideas and imaginings (and not satisfied with accepted/staid/established ideas). It’s the best way to approach new material–even stuff that you thought had nothing to do with your area of interest–with a degree of curiosity that you can carry over into your research.

Five more things you need to know about how Precept will work, after the jump.  » Read the rest of this entry «

What’s a Writing Advisor?

September 13th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

If Gertrude Stein had been a MAPHer, she would have gone to see Jeff. I’m not even kidding about this.

Here’s a guest post from the Authoritative Jeff McMahon. We’ll post his lecture later this week. For now, he asks you all to consider stopping by throughout the year. No one who has gone through MAPH during Jeff’s tenure can gainsay his voodoo-like abilities. Check out his course this Autumn, Journalism: Arts Reviews.

1. How do I make an appointment? During Colloquium, you can just send me an email and we’ll find a time to meet. Once the Core Course begins, we’ll use this online signup sheet

2. Why does MAPH have a writing advisor? Professional academics engage each other’s work primarily in writing, and writing is the primary means through which your work will be evaluated at the University of Chicago. Graduate-level writing must meet some demands that may not be required of undergraduate or non-academic professional writing. So MAPH has a writing advisor to help you adapt to the particular forms of writing valued in the Humanities Division.

(What to ask, after the jump…) » Read the rest of this entry «

Creative Writing FAQ

September 13th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The submission deadline for the fall quarter creative writing courses is this Thursday (the 15th). In case you’re contemplating taking one of them, here are  answers to some common questions regarding creative writing as a MAPH student, whether you’re in the Creative Writing Option, or you’ve never taken a writing class before.

» Read the rest of this entry «

What’s a preceptor and how did they get my email?

August 18th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Virgil was Dante’s Preceptor.

Instead of flying home last year I had Thanksgiving dinner with my friend and her family, just outside of Chicago. When people asked me how I was enjoying graduate school, they seemed generally confused by the nature of the program, and my use of MAPH-specific terms that apparently don’t get much exercise outside of U of C. I was barraged with question after question. “So…it’s a one-year program?”  “You can DO a one year masters?” “What’s your major?” “It’s a masters in the Humanities? Well, that’s pretty BROAD, isn’t it?”

And of course: “What’s a preceptor?” (Find out, after the jump…) » Read the rest of this entry «

Rejected MAPH Thesis Topics (from the archive)

January 27th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Frustrated about finding an advisor?  I can relate.  Here were just some of my own Rejected MAPH Thesis Proposals:

Hey Max

“The Big Guy: God in the Bible” – Speaking from an objective historical perspective, little attention has been paid to one of the central characters in the Bible: God.  In this thesis, I aim to address how God works in the Bible, specifically in the Old and New Testaments, and discern several implications for the course of ancient and modern history.  If space allows, I will consider the broader effects of Biblical literature on the evolution of warfare from the era of the Pentateuch till the long 1960′s.

“Hamlet: Damn, that’s a Good Play” – Have you ever read Hamlet?  I know! OMG.  SO GOOD.  In this graduated thesis, I will propose, like, so many reasons why it’s such a great play.  I mean, when everyone dies at the end?  WTF! (Not)LOLzz. » Read the rest of this entry «

The epic starting-your-thesis post

January 20th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

As you already know, it’s winter quarter—time to stand at the window, watch the snow fall, make a large pot of coffee, read, make soup, write, eat aforementioned soup, etc. (repeat until March).  As lovely as this all sounds, one anxiety-inducing thing about winter quarter is that there are A LOT of unknowns.  Who will my thesis advisor be?  How will I find this person?  How can I turn my current questions, which are likely big enough to fill a dissertation, into something that I can manage in 30 pages? I don’t know about you, but my heart rate is increasing already.  So, after taking a few deep breaths, remember that you’re always welcome to come by the office and talk to any of us.  But if you’re snowbound, here are my answers to some questions you might have about getting started on your thesis.

*After working on this ever-expanding document for a while, I realize that it may be overkill.  Many of you have already navigated some of these difficult tasks beautifully.  This Q&A amounts to a re-hashing of all of the things that I found stressful when I was starting my thesis.  I hope that it is helpful.

How should I approach potential advisors?

This can happen in a number of ways.  Whether you have already taken class with this professor, are currently taking their class, or have never interacted with them at all, your first meeting should be about gathering information.  That said, approaching a professor that you know only through their profile on the U of C website can feel a little strange.  Keep in mind that for most of these professors, advising student projects is an important part of their job and they have likely done a lot of this in the past.  In other words, even if you’ve never met a professor, s/he will not be surprised to receive the kind of introductory email that you will send.  BUT you will do well to give this email some thought. » Read the rest of this entry «