Author Archives: ajaronstein

Service Core: Washington Park Conservancy

Washington Park. It's old.

On this brisk Saturday morning, eighteen MAPH volunteers made the quick walk to the Washington Park Refectory–a Daniel Burnham building on the Western edge of the park–to meet up with Madiem Kawa, founder and president of the Washington Park Conservancy. Kawa, who lives just across the street from the Jesse Law Olmstead-designed urban playground and preserve, is also the park’s Nature Area Steward. She leads monthly service days from March through October (and sporadically throughout the rest of the year), along with a number of walks, tours, and events. Because the park is right next door to the University of Chicago’s campus (and yet somehow remains a space into which few MAPHers actually venture during their time in the Program), MAPHCentral thought that some autumn outdoor work would be a great way to kick off this year’s Service Core.

This new series of events asks MAPHers to step off the University campus and think about the ways in which volunteer work might be related (or unrelated) to their academic inquiry. What does it mean to do community service in the context of humanistic research? What does it mean to do service in the first place, and how might an ethic of service help inform what we’re doing at MAPH?

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Mentor Weekly Update: Week -1

Putin, horse.

Mentor Office Hours by appointment this Friday 9-5. Email us to schedule! Be sure to register for classes.

I) Highlighted MAPH Events you need to know about:

  • Graduate Orientation (Tuesday, various times/locations: check syllabus)
    • A full day of festivities kicks off at 8:30-10:00 with FREE HUMANITIES DIVISION BREAKFAST on CLASSICS QUAD
    • All of the events will be really nice welcome to the University and an opportunity to meet students from different programs
    • Also an chance to get ALL of the logistical information you will need about a range of topics–from Student Health to Transportation. There will also, apparently, be circus acts.
    • Free food throughout the day and drinks at a reception in Ida Noyes the afternoon
  • Smart Museum Tour (Wednesday)
    • We’ll meet at MAPHCentral at 10:15 or at 10:30 in the Smart Museum Lobby
    • Smart Museum staff will give us a “highlights of the collection” tour. It’s a fantastic museum right in our front yard (and currently employs three MAPH alums)
  • FIRST SOCIAL COMMITTEE MEETING (Friday, 4:00 PM Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap)
    • The first Social Committee meeting will be at 4:00 PM at Jimmy’s on Friday
    • Plan the entire quarter’s worth of social events paid for by the Humanities Division Graduate Student Council (HDGSC….don’t ask us to repeat that acronym ever again)

II) Miscellaneous stuff you should know about

III) The Saddest thing About the End of Summer is: No More Fishing

As always, email us ( with any questions or requests that you have. We’re always happy to schedule appointments at MAPHCentral as well if you’d like to talk one-on-one.

Crush it,


Career Core

Click on the image to see details about Career Core











In case you missed the “Planning Your Year” event last Friday, here’s what’s happening in Career Core and Service Core this year. You should be attending all of the Foundation Events; at least one of the Lunch Sessions; and as many of the Professional Seminars as you think are applicable to your chosen skills area as possible. Remember that thinking about your career should be fitting into your academic work. It’s not too early to begin thinking about what comes after MAPH.

Be sure to take advantage of CAPS walk-in hours. You can also schedule an appointment with me to talk about job or graduate school application materials, alumni connections, jobs in Chicago, or general stuff about your life after graduation.

Friday Events

Here’s a friendly reminder from your THREE FAITHFUL MENTORS to come to our brunch tomorrow at 10:30 AM in Classics 110 (just by MAPHCentral). We’ll be talking about academics, advising, thesis, social life, Chicago, alumni, jobs, PhD programs, classes, staff, weather, health, mental well-being, bars, beer, Bears, baseball. We’ll give out a free gift and most importantly:


After that, we’ll go over to Social Sciences 122 for “Planning Your Year.” The primary topic of discussion will be “Bringing the Humanities into the World, also commonly known as: “What comes after MAPH?” Together, these two events will help you plot the course of your academic, professional, and personal life over the coures of the next nine months and beyond.

Questions? Just ask. You know where to reach us (;;

The Enlightened Beginner: Precept Group

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.  Continue reading

What’s a Writing Advisor?

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…) Continue reading