Category Archives: Adventures

The storied travels of itinerant alumni

Volunteer for Learnapalooza! This Sunday in Logan Square!

 

learnapalooza

What is Learnapalooza? It’s a community-based festival offering free workshops and classes lead by volunteers and hosted by local businesses. This year’s Logan Square Learnapalooza takes place on Sunday, September 22 all day in various Logan Square locations.  Classes include: Continue reading

Bart Pushaw (’13) on Fulbright in Estonia

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Estonia!

Below is an update from recent MAPH Alum Bart Pushaw (’13) on his Fulbright in Estonia. For graduate students interested in applying for Fulbright, the deadline for the 2014-15 year is September 30th, 2013. You can find more information on the University of Chicago’s Graduate Affairs website

In his book Estonia: A Ramble Through the Periphery, Alexander Theroux devotes an entire chapter to why he abhors the small Baltic country. The first two pages of the last chapter are filled exclusively with sentences beginning with, “I hated…” While his disgust for Estonia, accrued while accompanying his wife during her Fulbright fellowship in Tallinn, treats banal facets of quotidian life in the country, it is all too easy to fall into his trap and blindly agree with him. Estonia is obscure, the proper names are strange in comparison with Anglo-American standards (take, for example, the names Tiit, Ene, Aat, Epp, etc.), and beating your naked self with birch branches in a 80°C (172°F)  sauna before rolling (your still naked body) in the snow to only jump in a freezing lake might seem a little extreme. But, such a nation would be obscure to Americans growing up in the Cold War era, where Estonia did not exist until it emerged among a plethora of so-called “random” post-Soviet states in 1991 (actually, the Republic of Estonia was also sovereign entity from 1918-1940). And Estonian names are, in fact, normal to Finns—of course a result of Estonians and Finns descent from a singular ancient Finno-Ugric, and notably non-Indo-European, culture. Besides, beating yourself in a sauna is something that really should be experienced before it is written off!

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Greg Langen on The Odyssey Project Internship: Freedom and its Discontents

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The cover page for In Medias Res, the Odyssey Project’s publication.

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.” Continue reading

The Taming of the Shrew, Directed by Jemma Alex Levy (’06)

taming of shrewYou can still catch Muse of Fire Theatre Company’s production of The Taming of the Shrew this weekend in Evanston!  Directed by MAPH alum Jemma Alix Levy, the show goes on in Ingraham Park on Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 pm.  Both performances are free, no reservations are required, and seating is free & unlimited. For more information, please visit www.museoffire.org.

A Day in the Life: An Externship at the Hyde Park Art Center

Here is a post from Keri Asma, MA ’13,on her recent externship to the Hyde Park Art Center. Keri is also one of the MAPH mentors for the upcoming year, so you’ll probably be hearing from her fairly often.

Externships are opportunities for recently graduated or current Master’s and PhD students to shadow alumni in various careers for a day. Rather like extended informational interviews, externships provide students with a chance to explore a particular profession, no prior experience necessary. If you are interested in learning more about externships through the University of Chicago, visit the CAPS website here: https://careeradvancement.uchicago.edu/jobs-internships-research/graduate-student-externships.

 

The Hyde Park Art Center is, as many of you probably know, a perfect example of the possible intersections between art, community, education, and humanistic inquiry. My externship at the center this summer not only gave me a sense of the individual work of MAPH Alumnae Kate Lorenz and Brook Rosini, but also provided a holistic picture of how their work contributes to a much larger project—one which like MAPH is centered on creating a community which can engage critically, passionately, and excitedly with the arts.

This post will be something between an introduction/plug for the HPAC, a reflection on what I learned, and an encouragement for doing externships. This is just one account of engaging with alumni, with the community, with the arts; there are probably lots more out there.*

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From Spanish Celtic to Heavy Metal: Documentaries by MAPH Alum Biliana Grozdanova

From MAPH ’11 alum Biliana Grozdanova, co-founder of El Jinete Films:

After living all over the world, from Australia’s east coast to America’s west coast and pretty much everywhere in between, the Grozdanova sisters found themselves on the premises of the University of Chicago campus about to embark on their most creative venture to date. In 2012, Biliana and Marina Grozdanova founded El Jinete Films – a documentary production company with a mission to create inspiring documentaries featuring music from all around the globe. Their first film, however, would be a tale about rock n’ roll from their very own streets of Chicago… Currently in production, “The Last Kamikazis of Heavy Metal” is a documentary about the Chicago-based band Hessler, with which the Grozdanova sisters have been on two national tours, filming their every move. A first cut of the film premiered this spring at the Bare Bones International Film and Music Festival and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary. The final version of the film will be released in the national and international festival circuit in 2014.

Marina is a graduating senior in the college, majoring in International Studies. Biliana is a 2011 MAPH-er and wrote her thesis on rock n’ roll and the music documentary. This summer, the sisters return to Spain (their second home) to premiere their parallel project, “Ortigueira: Echoes at Land’s End,” a film about an international Celtic music festival on Galicia’s northern shores. Interestingly enough, what began as another crazy trip and film venture, the Ortigueira experience inspired Marina to write her B.A. thesis on this music festival, and it has been nominated for the Adlai Stevenson International Studies Thesis Prize.

In 1926, Scottish documentarian John Grierson coined the term “documentary” while studying at the University of Chicago… Who would have thought that this fact, along with the birth of Mick Jagger, 16mm film cameras, and two little girls in ex-communist Bulgaria, would lead to the epic apparition of El Jinete Films on the UChicago campus almost a century later? Indeed, the rock doc is a genre very much ALIVE and WELL, and the Grozdanova sisters plan to feed it for decades to come!

Check out the trailer for Kamikazes above, and be sure to look out for its premiere and the premiere of Ortigueira. Do you know of a MAPH alum doing exciting creative work? Let us know!

Public History & Public Humanities: A tale of two MAs

The following post is an essay written by Lara Kelland (AM’02) and her doctoral colleague Anne Parsons. Lara and Anne are frequent contributors to the National Council on Pubic History’s “History @Work” blog. Public history is a professional field that engages the tools of academic history towards the creation of public projects such as museums, historic houses, digital projects, documentaries, and the like.

” ‘MUSEI WORMIANI HISTORIA’, THE FRONTISPIECE FROM THE MUSEUM WORMIANUM DEPICTING OLE WORM’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES.”

In our last History@Work post, we charted the recent burst of academic public history jobs in the past few years. This year’s job market has continued the trend, with thirty jobs seeking either major or minor public history specialties posted on the Academic Wiki. It is yet to be seen whether this increase in job postings reflects a sustainable boom or a short-lived bubble. Regardless, this growth of public history jobs signals a visible interest in the field in dozens of history departments across the country, raising significant questions regarding the overproduction of undergraduate and graduate students in public history.

One of the major concerns of expanding public history training is that many museums and historic institutions are currently facing major budget cuts, and so we are training new public historians for a field which is under siege. As the NCPH and the wider profession continue to discuss longstanding issues of graduate training in public history, we want to suggest a broadening of public history training. Public history already trains students in research and writing, preservation, and project management among other things. By incorporating more of a public humanities approach, we could train students even more broadly for a wider array of fields. At this moment of growth, public historians have an opportunity to think about new directions, including broadening the definitions of what public history is and what it encompasses.

Some universities have begun to re-imagine graduate training more expansively in the public humanities, which are broadly defined as projects that engage the public in the humanist fields of “history, philosophy, popular culture and the arts.” Public humanities programs such as those at the BrownNYU and University of Chicago infuse students with the belief that they can bring the specialized ideas of academic debate into the public sphere and inspire new visions about a more flexible curriculum and broad training. The growth of these programs demonstrates the expansive possibility of training the next generation of public historians not as possessors of a bound set of skills, but rather as flexible professionals who can work in a variety of cultural and non-profit settings. The majority of public history job listings call for experience in museum studies, historic preservation, and archival training. But the research, writing and public engagement skills of public historian would also work well in teaching, journalism, the arts and non-profit organizations.

As young public history professionals we come to this discussion mindful of our own experiences at the master’s level, one of us in public history and the other in public humanities. Anne received her MA in public history at New York University, a program that resides largely in the history department. The program provided her with a strong skill set for museum work and public history scholarship. In contrast, Lara trained at the University of Chicago in its Master of Arts Program in Humanities, designing an interdisciplinary degree that brought together different skill sets to her museum studies inquiry. The public humanities degree at University of Chicago, for instance, allowed students to design their own degree in various disciplines, enabling students to train themselves in ways that would be useful for their intended profession. A similar sentiment was expressed at the meeting of this past year’s NCPH Working Group on Imagining New Careers in Public History, where discussion about training MAs with business skills flourished. We might greatly benefit from looking to public humanities programs as a model for teaching students transferrable skills and broad cultural approaches. In one example, the University of Chicago’s MAPH program consistently places students in publishing, journalism, and teaching jobs, as well as other cultural sector jobs in visual and dramatic arts and public humanities organizations. According to one administrator of the program, graduates of broad humanities training are well-positioned to connect ideas generated within the academy to public spaces, events, and projects.

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Life after Combat: a guest post from Eric McMillan (MAPH 2010)

Eric McMillan’s unit, capturing an arms cache in Iraq (2007)

In response to Nick Fox’s (MAPH 2011) thoughts about military service in the wake of 9/11 Eric McMillan (MAPH 2010) offers a guest reflection on life after combat. Eric was honorably discharged from the US Army having attained the rank of Captain and is working on a book about the life of a soldier. He lives with his wife in Seattle.

Walking from my apartment to campus was like planning a patrol. First, I determined a route I would take. Then I planned an alternate route, a contingency route, an emergency route. I could never get over how many kids I saw walking around listening to iPods instead of paying attention to their surroundings. Every morning, I laid out my packing list and prepared as if I were going outside the wire. As I walked, I watched people’s hands, classified them as “threat/ no threat,” peered around every alleyway before crossing them, watched windows on the second stories of the street. I did this all year in the sun and the rain and snow. It was habit. It was survival. It was what I knew.  Continue reading