Author Archives: mwl89

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!