Author Archives: wsperrazza

Eeek…my parents are coming!

Very soon your parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, lovers, etc. will be descending on Chicago like a swarm of buzzards, ready to spend the last weekend of your MAPH career asking you about job searches, moving plans, and your love life. Even those of you who are secretly (or outwardly) excited to have your parents here in a few days might just be clamoring for them to leave by the end of the weekend, especially if you don’t plan ahead. Chicago is a bustling city and it’s going to be even more bustling this weekend with the huge annual Blues Festival and the CPAC conference (which is why we were bugging you to book hotels so early).

So, our advice is to start thinking now about how to entertain your guests this weekend during the actually extensive downtime between convocation events. Oh, and right off the bat, if you haven’t made reservations for dinner Friday or Saturday yet, DO IT NOW. We put some restaurant recommendations in the Convocation timeline post, but come see us if you’re still deciding.

In the meantime, here are some helpful ideas for actual places to go and things to do (not restaurants) around town with your folks this weekend:

1. Chicago Blues Festival: The festival runs from June 8th-10th in Grant Park and is phenomenal for so many reasons. First, it’s FREE. You can wander into Grant Park pretty much anytime between 10:00AM and 9:00PM any day of the festival, pop-a-squat on a plot of grass and listen to some high quality blues music. Or, if you do feel like spending some money, you can buy some food tickets to get Robinson’s Ribs (Remember that delicious food we served you during the Opening BBQ last summer? Yeah. That was Robinson’s.), complete with corn on the cob and mac and cheese. Yum. Or, go classy and bring a blanket and a little cooler with a bottle of wine, some brie, and some baguette for your very own “outdoor mini-Social Hour” with your folks. They’ll be so impressed.

2. Green City Market: Hands down one of the best farmer’s markets in the area. It runs on Saturdays from 7:00AM-1:00PM and it located at the south end of Lincoln Park (approximately 1790 N. Clark if you want to map it). Seriously the best thing about the market is the location because there are so many other great things to do in the Lincoln Park area. Go to the market and grab a crepe or some pizza bread, maybe some fresh, local strawberries (just out as of last week) then sit and listen to the little jazz band that plays in the late morning. Then, you can wander over to the Lincoln Park Zoo or the little shops that line Armitage in Lincoln Park (Francesca’s, Paper Source, Art Effect, just to name a few). Oh, and if you’re stopping at Art Effect on Armitage, you HAVE to go to Annette’s right across the way. They have peanut better cup cookie dough ice cream. Yes, it’s all one flavor.

3. The Lichtenstein Exhibit at the Art Institute: You really can’t beat the Art Institute in terms of impressing your parents. It’s in the heart of downtown Chicago, right by Millennium Park and the building alone is worth a 15-minute ogle. Add the fact that they currently have an amazing Roy Lichtenstein retrospective up right now and you can get in for free with your UChicago ID. Your parents will marvel at their little cultured, frugal child. And, if you want the icing on the cake, hit the Chicago Architecture Foundation gift shop afterwards (right across the street on Michigan Ave.) for some early holiday shopping. Yes, I think about Christmas all the time.

4. Old Town Art Fair: This is one of the better summer art shows that comes through Chicago. First, it’s pretty huge (as in over 260 artists). Second, it’s in one of the cute, ritzy, old Chicago neighborhoods so it’s fun just to wander and look at the architecture, even if you’re not shopping for art. The main entrance is at the intersection of Lincoln and Wisconsin and it runs both Saturday and Sunday of this coming weekend.

Hopefully these suggestions will give you a jump start on plans this weekend. Don’t forget that Chicago is also home to a ton of amazing museums and a fantastic theater scene, so we’re always happy to give you more ideas if you need them!

Convocation and You

It’s hard to believe that just 9 months ago we were writing the “Welcome to MAPH” blog post for you guys. And now, here we are, 9 insane months later, writing the “MAPH Convocation” post. I know you’re all busy and still have lots to finish before convocation actually happens, but just take the time right now to congratulate yourself on ALL that you have accomplished over the past 9 months. You have likely written over 200 pages of academic writing, read over 1,000 pages of fiction, theory, criticism, and/or philosophy, met a bunch of new and interesting people that will hopefully be a major support system for you as you move on to your next adventure, and expanded your mind in ways that only graduate school at the University of Chicago allows you to do.

The really exciting thing is that in three short weeks (yes, three weeks from Saturday), all of the insane stress of this program will be behind you and you can focus on the amazing journey and the benefits that you’ve gained from it. Plus your family will be in town so you’ll probably get a least one swanky, free dinner. So, let’s cut the sap and get down to business. Here’s what you need to know about convocation weekend:

Friday night from 4:00PM to 6:00PM is the Parent Reception (location: Classics 110), and it is just that: a reception for you and your parents (also friends, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc.). Please don’t let them be nervous about dressing up or anything. MAPHCentral will be slightly dressed up so we look nice to meet your families, but we’d rather you and your guests be comfortable. It’s not a sit-down dinner–more like a social hour but with better food and drink. Why do we do this? Well, because we blow most of our end-of-the-year budget on prom AND it gives you the chance to go to not one, but TWO fabulous Chicago restaurants while your parents are in town (Friday and Saturday night).

Note about the restaurants: make reservations NOW. If you’re looking for good, family-friendly (i.e., not Jimmy’s) places to bring your parents and show off the city, here are some suggestions: Shaw’s, Piccolo Sogno, The FarmhousePhil Stefani’s, or La Madia. If you just want a yummy dessert after snacking at the reception, maybe try: Hot Chocolate, La Creperie, or The Purple Pig (surprisingly Italian). Trust me, MAPHCentral can recommend Chicago restaurants for hours, so come by if you still need a place and don’t like any of these options.

(Saturday’s Events…after the jump)

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Maren Robinson in the MAPH Office with the Corkscrew

Sound familiar? Yes, friends. It’s the format of your standard Clue game guess: __(person)___ in the __(room)___ with the __(weapon)___. I myself cracked this particular case just this afternoon. The only evidence? These two photos.

No thanks, needed. Just another day here. Crackin’ down on crime.

Until the next case rears its head, we thought we’d share a Clue blog post for those who have never played Clue or for those simply looking for some Prom attire inspiration.

There have been many, many versions of Clue since it was first introduced to the game board market in Leeds, England in 1949. The murder mystery game genre was devised in 1944, by Anthony E. Pratt, with his original mystery-themed game “Murder!”. The game was originally invented for soldiers, as something to play during sometimes lengthy air raid drills in underground bunkers. Shortly thereafter, Pratt and his wife presented the game to a Waddington Company executive, Norman Watson, who immediately purchased the game and provided its trademark name of “Cluedo” (a play on “clue” and “Ludo”, which is Latin for “I play”). Some MAPHCentral staff members still believe it’s called “Cluedo” in England.

But, here in the United States, it’s become plain old “Clue” and has sparked a large (almost Rocky Horror-esque) following. Large enough, in fact, that it inspired a Hollywood film in 1985 starring Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Christopher Lloyd. The film is set in a Gothic Revival mansion and is really the place to get your inspiration for this week’s prom dress. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s well worth a few hours of final paper procrastination. It’s a lot of really bad puns, outrageous costumes, and people screaming. Kind of what we’re hoping Friday will turn out to be.

Really, though,we don’t want you to feel as though you need to spend the next two days scouring Chicago for the perfect purple pinstripe suit (Professor Plum?). Think of it more as murder-mystery, deteriorating Gothic mansion dress and just wear whatever the heck strikes your fancy. Really what this night should be is a chance to dress up and party all together one more time before your families start coming in to town and you all go your separate ways for the summer.

Don’t forget: Friday, May 25th at 7:00PM at the Lillie House (58th and Kenwood). See you there!

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

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)

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Thesis Survival Mode

It’s May 8th. That means, here at MAPH, barest-minimum thesis survival mode has set in. You’re probably drinking way too much coffee. Staying up way too late in the evening reading and writing. Eating only what’s necessary to survive the day.

At this point last year, a blog post encouraging me to stop all of these bad habits would have been infuriating. That’s why I’m not even going to bother saying “please take care of yourself.” Instead, I’m going to suggest some REALLY AWESOME alternatives to stressing about your thesis and starving yourself that might be SO enticing, you just might do them.

1. Go to the POINT: The weather is supposed to be beautiful Thursday and Friday of this week. Start your weekend early. Grab a MAPH grill after Social Hour on Friday and head to the Point with some hot dogs and beer. Or, wander there on Thursday afternoon after your classes are over. Grab a Klondike from the little ice cream truck on the bike path. And stop by the Cove for a nice cold beer on your way home. Or just stay at the Cove.

2. Go to Nick’s Beer Garden: If it makes you feel better about taking an outing away from your nest in Hyde Park, you can spend the day at The Wormhole studying before you head to Nick’s for happy hour specials, a fabulous back deck, and live music on Fridays and Saturdays (no cover!).

3. Take a bike ride: The bike path located at our very own Point actually runs all the way past NAVY PIER! I know. Pretty unbelievable. Don’t have a bike? Well, our very own University of Chicago actually has a BIKE RENTAL program. I know. Shocked you again. This is the perfect answer to that antsy feeling you get from being in your apartment for three days straight without talking to anyone. Grab a friend, grab some bikes, and set out with a picnic on a day-long adventure.

Need more ideas? Come into MAPHCentral and we’ll hook you up.

Happy well-deserved break time!

Thesis Works-In-Progress and Why It Might Be Better Than Prom (?)

Thesis Works-In-Progress: It's really more like a tea party with friends.

Thesis Works-In-Progress is fast approaching and I’m sure that there are many of you out there going back and forth on whether or not you want to participate. That’s fair. I realize that in my original e-mail about the event, while I did an okay job describing what the event itself would be like, I never actually gave you all some solid reasons to participate. So, lest my lack of reasoning (but not really) be the reason why you haven’t sent me your proposal, here are the reasons why you absolutely SHOULD participate in this event. I hope I’ve covered every category of MAPHer at this point in the year, but if you’re in a place that I haven’t discussed, by all means, let me know.

1. If you are planning/hoping/thinking about going on to a Ph.D. program next year:

If this is you, your proposal should already be in my Inbox. Presenting your work (and what will probably become your writing sample) at ANY conference this year can only help your application. Not only because it will be another line on your CV and a good indication that you take your work and your professional development as a scholar seriously, but also because presenting your project can actually make it better. As some of you may have already realized over the past few months, talking with people about your work can have an incredibly positive impact on your thought organization. Just being forced to answer that constant question at family events–“and what are you working on in grad school?”–can be a helpful way to practice succinctly and coherently describing the crux of your project. So if even THAT can be helpful, then presenting your work in front of your colleagues and peers, with thoughtful feedback and questions afterwards, takes that usefulness to a whole new level.

(or maybe this isn’t you and you need to….keep reading after the jump)

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MAPH Internships: Newcity

This is the first year we’re offering this internship and Newcity is really excited about having a MAPHer on staff. As the Newcity intern, you will work about twenty hours a week during normal hours for about three months, as well as cover stories or work events from time to time during evenings and weekends. Duties might include editorial and writing, as well as marketing support and other project-oriented tasks. In other words, you have the chance to get involved in all aspects of publishing in print and online.

The internship is virtual, meaning your “office hours” will be at your own unsupervised virtual office and occasionally in our office, or at a weekly intern meeting downtown. You’ll need a laptop (we don’t have extra computers) and access to an internet connection when you’re not in the office.

Editorial duties include researching stories, fact-checking, compiling listings and a modicum of special projects of varying degrees of difficulty and drudgery. Interns should be prepared to do a ton of writing, some for print, most for our web sites. That means great writing skills and reporting experience, or at least an inclination to report. Interns generally do not write reviews, at least till they’ve proven themselves as writers and with a discerning sensibility.

If you want to read a bit more about this awesome media company, their website has a lot of useful information, including some testimonies from past interns.

MAPH Internships: Chicago History Museum

Being the oldest cultural organization in town means that the Chicago History has had to rebuild.  The original building at Dearborn and Ontario Streets burned to the ground in the 1871 fire.  The parts of the collection that weren’t destroyed in that conflagration succumbed to a second fire three years later.  But this wouldn’t be a true Chicago institution if it didn’t have to start from scratch a few times.

Today, the Lincoln Park-located museum boasts an enormous collection of materials dedicated to the preservation of Chicago’s history of cultural, architectural, economic, and shady-political achievements.  Their upcoming summer exhibition, which you would obviously be around for as their summer intern, is the HISTORY OF MAGIC. I capitalize this because it sounds so incredibly awesome and I didn’t want you to miss the title. “You’ll witness live performances, visit a mysterious object theater, and examine exciting artifacts. Find out how to become a magician, and explore the secrets of the business. Discover the truth behind some of the oldest illusions.”

(More serious things, like the internship description, after the jump…)

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