Meet an Alum – Bradley Gardner (MA ’06)

What was your favorite part of MAPH? What do you remember most fondly about MAPH?

MAPH gives you a lot of time to do things you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise, and think about things you’re unlikely to think about later. A lot of the overarching goals of my work – finding persuasive ways to express the value of human dignity, analyzing how people interact with institutions – was something that Andre Bazin, the person I wrote my Master’s thesis on, wrote a lot about, even if it was in an entirely different context.

What experiences and/or choices led you to where you are now? (In other words, what would a brief sketch of your career trajectory look like?)

AfterMAPH(TM), I went to the Czech Republic because I was chasing after a girl (who I  would later get married to). I took a job with a local business magazine covering banking and finance, mostly because it paid me money, but I quickly found that I was fairly good at getting information from strange places and explaining it in clear words. When my wife finished her schooling, we relocated to Beijing, where we both spoke the language. I covered China for about seven years, first as a journalist, then as an economic researcher with the Economist Group, until I joined the Foreign Service in 2014.

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AlumniU is a free online learning community exclusively for UChicago alumni, where you can take classes, talk with faculty about their latest research, join reading groups, and connect with your peers from anywhere you have internet access. This is a great resource for MAPH alums looking to stay involved in the conversation.



AlumniU offers a variety of ways to learn online. Quarterly classes give you several weeks to explore a topic or text with UChicago faculty and fellow alumni. Ongoing programs, such as book clubs and career discussions, recur throughout the year and provide shorter, more focused learning opportunities.

Keri Asma ‘13 will be running a weekly reading group to discuss key texts in queer science fiction, including works by Samuel Delaney, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler and more. The reading group begins on October 3rd. To participate, log in to now to access readings and join the conversation.

05Feb2015_048Additionally, deputy director Hilary Strang will begin a weekly lecture series on “Connecting the Curious: Love, Belonging, and Other Surprising Concerns of Science Fiction.” Join in, beginning November 29th, to discuss the history and implications of science fiction.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact Keri Asma at

Odyssey Project Summer Internship


My internship with Illinois Humanities, working particularly with The Odyssey Project, took place over ten weeks during the summer. I worked out of the Illinois Humanities office in the Loop, where they gave me the flexibility to set my own hours. The Odyssey Project runs during the school year, providing free Humanities education to low-income adults, and much of the work needing to be done was in preparation for September. I worked exclusively with the director of the program, helping where needed to design and proofread ads, compile lists of organizations to help us with outreach, and return phone calls to prospective students. This year, for the first time, the number of applicants greatly exceeded the number of seats available for the course, which gave me an opportunity to weigh in during the admissions process.

Many of the students who graduate from The Odyssey Project continue to stay involved through an alumni advisory board, and through summer workshops taught on a volunteer basis. The largest part of my internship consisted of designing a syllabus and teaching one of these workshop one evening each week. During my interview, I let my supervisor know I would be interested in teaching on Poetry, and I ended up developing a five-week course on the history of the sonnet in English. This was my first experience as the main facilitator in a classroom, and the students made it a rewarding one. They remained excited and engaged throughout the course, and contributed a genuine interest in learning the material. Every now and again, my supervisor asked how things were going, and we discussed the main successes and challenges of the course after the fact.OP-Logo

While I got to contribute many aspects work around the office, teaching the workshop was by far the most rewarding part of the internship. I would highly recommend this internship for anyone interested in getting some classroom experience, especially in adult education, and in a low-stress environment.

– Andrew Miller ’16

Tearing Down The Walls


Mornings at the Gratz Center were lively, to say the least. The Gratz Center is the annex to Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church, right in the middle of Magnificent Mile. Surrounded by insurmountable amounts of pedestrian traffic, the Gratz Center provides a place of respite from the 90-degree weather. Even their WiFi password is free. During the summer, Gratz is home to many church-related projects: religious summer school, food programs for the homeless, and a small three-week workshop called Humanities Without Walls.

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Critical Inquiry Internship

Hi future and past MAPHers!

critical inquiry

This summer I got to intern with Critical Inquiry, a peer-reviewed, critical theory-driven academic journal, published by the University of Chicago Press. I was most excited to experience publishing on the Journal side of the Press, having worked in Acquisitions in the Books department throughout the year. This internship has given me insight into the nitty-gritty, ins and outs of academic publishing, and has been an eye-opening experience into the day-to-day agenda for editors of the journal. The staff is small and intimate, composed of Jay and Hank primarily, with several graduate students to help manage editing the 8-10 article-range published in each issue. Both are delightful iconoclasts, eager to engage in stylistic debates over lunch, all-the-while dedicating themselves to producing the best journal possible.

critical inquiry blog post

Summer 16 Issue


My main responsibility was fact-checking the articles in order to ensure any quotations were cited correctly, and that the endnotes were in proper Chicago Manual Style. For those of us who have written papers, this process will sound familiar. Any future MAPHers about to experience the thesis-writing process, this task can more whimsically be described as a textual scavenger hunt- all you need is a sharp pair of eyes and a dedication to detail-oriented practices. I also got to help edit pages, which are articles that are soon-to-be-published. The content is produced by some of the finest minds in their respective academic fields, and it was thrilling to get a firsthand read of their material.


While MAPH instilled in me the thrill-seeking attitude needed to dig through online publications and scour the library stacks to find original texts to fact-check against, the CI internship was my first real experience working with CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style), as, coming from an English background, MLA was my go-to citation choice. The CI summer internship gave me a comprehensive tour into the world of academic publishing, specifically publishing a journal, and it really sharpened my editing skills for the better! This internship is a great chance to learn more about publishing at one of the finest universities.

– Madeleine Michaelides ’16

Archives Diving: Or, What I Did the Summer After Graduation

Hello MAPHers! I’m Sarah, MAPH ’16, and this summer I worked in a MAPH sponsored archiving internship at the Newberry Library.

For those of you who don’t know, the Newberry is a highly respected private research library north of the Loop. It’s non-circulating, so you can’t take any materials out with you, but if you have a driver’s license, a respect for books, and you want to learn, you can study just about any material in their collections that you’d like. The Newberry is a hub for genealogists and Midwestern studies, and its primary focus is in the humanities. It holds the Pullman records, big dance collections, and other fun things like the first Best Screenplay Oscar and Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Federalist Papers.

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[the Oscar and the Federalist papers]

I’ve been interning as an archives assistant in modern manuscripts, so I’m back in the stacks every day. My floor’s stacks smell spectacular because many of the volumes are leather-bound. My focus has been on a more recent collection: I’m helping process the MoMing Dance Collective’s papers.

MoMing was a dance collective and studio active in Chicago from 1974-1990. They were extremely avant-garde, focusing primarily on postmodern dance, performance art, and believe it or not, clowning.

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[mystic clown letterhead, clowning at Wrigley Stadium in 1977]

I like working in the archives because I never know what I’m going to run into on any given day. I have worked with tickets, financial records, performance files, press kits, photos and slides of performances (including the aforementioned clowns), and videos of classes and performances. Archiving takes a lot of patience, especially when you’re trying to reorder files in chronological order and you can’t find any dates, or when you know you’ve seen a performer in a photo before but can’t seem to find the related files. I’ve been sold on the job, though — I’m considering going back to school to get an MLIS degree so that I can do it full time.

If you’re interested in the Newberry, or in the MoMing Collection, come check us out! The Newberry is free and open to the public, and there will be a presentation on MoMing and the other dance files processed recently at a colloquium at the Newberry at 4 PM on August 31. Hope to see you there.

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       [vhs of a dance performance, description of the cat waltz]

Danielle Simon, MAPH ’11, Wins Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize

Congratulations to Danielle Simon, a 2011 alum of MAPH and current PhD candidate in the Department of Music at the University of California, Berkeley, for being awarded one of this year’s Rome Prizes by the American Academy in Rome! This fellowship will provide her the opportunity to do independent work in the arts and humanities as a part of an interdisciplinary residential community. Additionally, the AAR will be able to introduce Danielle to research centers and libraries in Rome and throughout Italy. Danielle’s project for the prize is “La Voce della Radio: Opera and the Radio in Italy, 1931–1960.” We wish her all the best with this exciting endeavor!

From the American Academy in Rome:

Rome Prize winners are selected annually through a national competition process by independent juries of distinguished scholars and artists in one of the 11 disciplines supported by the Academy, including: Literature, Music Composition, Visual Arts, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Design, and Historic Preservation and Conservation, as well as Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern, and Modern Italian Studies. Nationwide, almost 900 applications were received from 46 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.

Founded in 1894, the American Academy in Rome is the oldest American overseas center for independent study and advanced research in the arts and humanities. It is the only privately funded not-for-profit institution among the national academies. In addition to the Rome Prize and Italian Fellowships, the Academy invites a select group of Residents, Affiliated Fellows, and Visiting Artists and Scholars to work together within this exceptional community in Rome.

To learn more about the American Academy in Rome, please visit:

My MAPH Internship Experience – Torch Fellowship with Universidad Popular, by Rachel Kamins

Each year, MAPH Partners with several Chicago cultural, literary, and non-profit organizations to provide paid summer internships designed specifically for MAPH students. One of these opportunities, the Torch Fellowship, gives students the opportunity to reach out to an organization of their choice to propose a summer internship project. This fellowship, named in honor of Rafael Torch, writer, teacher and MAPH alum from 2005, was offered for the first time in Summer 2012. The service fellowship in his name offers one graduate student funding for an otherwise unpaid internship in any non-sectarian, non-profit social justice, community-building, or other service- or outreach-focused organization in Chicago during the summer after graduation. The fellowship is intended to promote connections between humanistic inquiry and service work outside the academy in the city of Chicago. 

Rachel Kamins (MAPH’15) was awarded the Torch Fellowship last summer and agreed to write a blogpost for us about her experience working with Universidad Popular

~Your Mentors


One of my goals going into MAPH, after having been in a career for a few years already, was to use the program to help me shift to a different line of work. I had been editing academic manuscripts for scholars and publishers. I wanted to move into a position where I could edit a bigger variety of work, where I could be involved in projects that called more on my own creativity and interests, and where I could feel like my work was making a positive impact on a broader piece of the world. I figured that working for a nonprofit would help me tick those boxes, especially at a small organization where I could more easily play a range of roles and take on various responsibilities

One of my particular interests was working with learners of English as a second language. A lot of my editing clients have been nonnative speakers, and I focused on ESL acquisition via studying linguistics in MAPH in order to better understand these learners’ experiences and challenges. I saw the Torch Fellowship as a great opportunity to put all these pieces together by working on writing and editing projects at a nonprofit that serves ESL learners.

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I Googled ESL nonprofits in Chicago, reached out to a few of them, had informational interviews at a couple, and ended up being very excited to work with Universidad Popular. Headquartered in the Little Village neighborhood on the west side, UP is one of the organizations helping the large community of immigrants to Chicago from Central and South America feel at home in their new country, through social services, cultural events, and community centers. I was bowled over by the immediately obvious warmth, friendliness, energy, and courage of the staff and volunteers at UP as well as of their participants.

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My MAPH Internship Experience — Newberry Library, by Ikumi Crocoll

A Summer at the Newberry

Ikumi Crocoll

I had been looking forward to the summer internships since I started MAPH. There are, of course, many amazing organizations to work with, but, as someone with a previous library degree, I had my eye on the Newberry Library from the start. My summer experience there did not disappoint and was fulfilling in unexpected ways.

NewberryI worked specifically with the archives at the Newberry. While I had done some prior coursework and volunteering in archives, I did not have a great deal of processing experience (basically, arranging and describing papers and records in an archival setting), something pretty important if one wants to become an archivist (while I am still exploring career options, this is one of them). Most of my work at the Newberry revolved around processing two Midwestern collections: the William Edward Parsons Papers and the Elbert Ozial Taylor Papers.

Parsons was a Chicago architect, who specialized in city planning. He worked on plans for cities from Detroit to Manila. You might also recognize his work in Grant Park’s Buckingham Fountain. Elbert Ozial Taylor, on the other hand, was a minister who became a national temperance lecturer. He was also a graduate of the University of Chicago. Unfortunately, most of the materials do not deal with the sins of alcohol, but they do give a sense of how Taylor thought through his sermons and perhaps a key to his philosophical and spiritual origins prior to his prohibitionist calling. Working with these collections gave me historical insight into figures, time periods, areas, and vocations of which I had little knowledge, especially revealing some facets of the Midwest in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Deciding how to organize items (knowing that there is not just one way!) proved challenging, and the entire process of getting a collection ready for public consumption often took a long time. However, I felt excited and proud to see the final products of my efforts: the papers neatly organized and labeled and a finding aid available online so that people could start requesting the documents immediately.

IkumiOne of the aspects I appreciated the most about this internship – in addition to the experience of working at such a prestigious library, of course – was the amazing people with whom I had the opportunity to work. Right from the interview, I knew that the staff were warm, funny, friendly people. They helped me in terms of my daily tasks and by giving me career advice. Furthermore, they have allowed me to stay on as a volunteer since the summer ended and have continued to be incredibly supportive of my endeavors to get a job in libraries/archives. I also had the privilege of working with one other MAPH person and a few other grad students, a lovely group of people with whom I could discuss work or enjoy gelato. These are people I still consider friends.

Naturally, there are many perks to working at a great library like the Newberry, and I would feel strange not at least mentioning some of those that one might expect. Toward the end of the summer, we (the archives interns) were taken to the vault to see (and touch!) some of the rarest and most valuable items that the Newberry owns. Highlights included an Oscar (I did get a picture holding it), a signed Chopin piece, a Thomas Jefferson letter, and a Shakespeare first folio. There were also various sessions designed just for interns on getting to know the Newberry’s resources, as well as weekly colloquia that we were encourage to attend, during which various scholars and librarians would present some aspect of research based on the resources they had found at the Newberry. Basically, we had the opportunity to see how incredible the Newberry is for humanities work.

As I mentioned before, not all was fun and games; processing, in particular, could take a great deal of work and patience. Sometimes you had to label and stamp hundreds of folders; sometimes you had to sort through many, many photographs without really knowing the subjects. The list of time-consuming tasks could continue on and on. Yet this was also an internship that exposed me to the Newberry’s approach to archival processing (both similar and not entirely the same to what I had experienced elsewhere), interesting historical documents, thought-provoking research, wonderful people, and, of course, a stand-out humanities library. I am exceedingly grateful for this. And yes, still hopeful that this work will somehow help me find a job.

Michael Robbins’ Poetry Reviewed in n+1

Michael Robbins, whose poetry has appeared in the New Yorker, PoetryHarper’s, and Boston Review among other places, graduated from MAPH in 2004.  His MAPH thesis focused on lyric subjectivity after language poetry. He has since earned a PhD in English from UChicago, published two books, and published critical articles and continues to teach creative writing.

Frank Guam just reviewed Michael’s work for n+1 magazine, which you can check out here: The review provides insight into both Michael’s journey to where he is now as a poet as well as his poetry itself.

Congrats on your successes, Michael, and keep up the good work!