Category Archives: Administrative Announcements

Wise words from MAPH Central.

Convocation Schedule 2015


Don’t forget your robes! You want the ones with the weird sleeves.

Unbelievably, Convocation is right around the corner. I’m sure you’ve all marked your calendars for Saturday, June 13th, but if you or your family/loved ones are curious about the schedule for the day, check below for details!



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Convocation Information

DSC_8917_3 Although I realize graduation is months away and you have much to do before then, questions about Convocation weekend are starting to trickle in. Thus, we have a post for you with all of the relevant information collected here for your convenience.

June 5th: Note that grades are due to the Registrar’s Office by June 5th. This means that you need to have submitted your final papers or else arranged with the professor to take a Convocation grade. The Convocation grade is a stand-in grade (usually a B or B-) that will be changed in the summer, after the professor can review and assess your final paper. (I, for one, finished one final before the 5th and then took a Convocation grade for my other course, giving me an extra week to finish it.)

Around this date (early June) is a good time to pop over to the UChicago Bookstore and buy your cap and gown! You do indeed have to purchase the gown, I believe it is about 52 dollars.

June 12th: Maph Friends and Family Reception

The reception will take place in Classics 110, from 3:00-5:00pm on Friday the 12th. This is a great chance to introduce your friends and family to the lounge, Maph friends, the Maph staff, and most importantly your mentors.  Of course, you can come without bringing any guests. Come get delicious food and meet adults that look vaguely familiar. We hope you can all attend!

June 13th: Convocations 1 and 2

University of Chicago holds multiple convocations (which many universities do, but was news to me last year).

University-wide convocation starts at 9:15 am and is held on the main quad. This ceremony is for the whole university. Tickets are not required.

Maph hosts a lunch for you and your friends and family, in Bartlett Commons which will begin at 11:30 am. (No tickets or RSVP needed) From the lunch, you guys will go directly to the Reynolds Club (graduation takes place in Mandel Hall) and wait in line while everyone gets alphabetized. The Maph staff will shortly thereafter direct your guests over to the building.mandel

The Humanities Division Convocation will begin at 1:45 in Mandel Hall. The ceremony usually lasts about an hour. Once again, no tickets are needed for guests to attend the ceremony.

After the Convocation ceremony, there is a post-ceremony toast (with champagne!) out on Bartlett Quadrangle starting 2:45-3:00 pm.


After that, I hope you will all celebrate!!!


Always feel free to email us with questions. We’ll also be putting out more posts about transportation, things to do, recommended places to take your family to dinner, etc. But here at least are the date and an outline of what the weekend looks like.

For questions about graduation requirements and deadlines (for instance, questions about restrictions or incompletes), consult Maren Robinson and/or your preceptor.

The university’s official website for Convocation can be found here and the link for the Humanities Division in particular, here.

To Prospective Students: Advice That I Got and Didn’t Listen to & Advice I Didn’t Get But Wish I Would Have Before Starting MAPH (I Probably Wouldn’t Have Listened to That Advice Either)

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Bill Hutchison, MAPH ’12, who is a now a PhD candidate in English at the University of Chicago. Bill will be on Sunday’s alumni panel.

IMG_2362Hello, potential MAPH students! I’m an alumnus of the program from 2011-2012, and worked in the program as a mentor the following year. Now I’m a second-year PhD student in the English department at University of Chicago. I want to get one thing out on the table between us before you read this. I want you to know where I’m coming from. I’m a big, big fan of the program. I’m neither apologist nor evangelist, but definitely a proponent. If you want skepticism, seek elsewhere. Do MAPH right and it will change your life, or so say I.

1. Do a Thing Because You Want to Do That Thing, Not Because You Want to Do Something Else

Come to MAPH because you want to sharpen your mind and learn to be a better human, not because you want to “be a professor.” And let’s be honest about that, too. Some of the best advice I got from an advanced PhD student working as one of MAPH’s astonishingly bright instructors was: “Get a PhD because you want to write a dissertation, not because you want to be a professor.” It’s smart advice. The American Association of University Professors says that 76 percent of university staff appointments are for non-tenure track positions. The nature of academia is in flux, and romantic notions of academia and “being a professor” can blur the realities of the world so many of us want to be a part of. If you come to MAPH, come because you think it’s awesome (you’re right). Instrumentalizing the program as a way to do something else is a good way to miss big and important chunks of MAPH. Come to this program if you want to do something amazing while you are in the program. That seems like the best way to do amazing things later, too.

2. You Will Change Your Mind About a Lot of Things a Lot of Times: Go With It

loungeI was totally, totally sure what I was going to write my thesis on. I was going to write about the industrialization of animals, and was going to do it in the Philosophy department. I actually ended up writing my thesis on animality and The Island of Doctor Moreau in the English department. Yeah, there’s a bit of conceptual overlap in my actual thesis and lumpy mass of ideas I originally thought I wanted to write about.
But I found a set of ideas in MAPH that were totally unexpected, and I found them in a class I would have had no intention of taking when I started the program. This is not a unique experience. Don’t resist these experiences. Ideas like to be alive and jump around and do unexpected things. Professors here frequently talk about “the graduate student imagination,” and part of that imagination is learning how to interact with those ideas in a way that doesn’t involve cooping them up and contorting them into unnatural shapes. Follow your ideas around; they go such interesting places.

3. I Don’t Know How One Does This, But Try to Let Go of Your Ego

I’m realizing now that all the things I have to say are basically the same pieces of advice said in different ways. Nevertheless, MAPH is an intense experience. I like to say that it’s impossible. But that’s one of the amazing things about it. By the end, you have accomplished something impossible. It’s impossible to take 150% of the PhD student workload and write a high-quality thesis in a year. It can’t be done. And yet with the enthusiastic and effective support of the staff and instructors, you do it. And then even more impossible things become possible. But it requires a lowering of defenses that can be tough. Come into MAPH with an open head and open heart, and it will alter you in very real and direction-changing ways. It’s a good place to come and dismantle yourself and build an even better version. Sure, it’s a little painful at times, but it’s transformative. You don’t come out the same as when you went in, and ego makes the process more difficult than it needs to be.

4. Here Is the Secret to Getting Into Any PhD Program You Want

Be lucky. Really, really lucky. And, to quote my MAPH thesis advisor, “work your bloody ass off.” But ninety percent of it is just to be really, really lucky. That is to say, MAPH Central will tell you lots of things about why it’s important to not just do PhD prep stuff while you’re here, and why you should meet with the career people and come to the events with non-academic alumni. Listen to them! Go to those things! Just like it’s really hard to get a tenure-track job, it’s really hard to get into a top-notch PhD program. It’s hard to get into PhD programs of any notch! If you want to get a PhD, go for it, but don’t bet the the whole farm on it. Have a contingency plan. MAPH Central is the very best place to plan your plan. It doesn’t take much effort, but it can come in surprisingly handy. Yes, MAPH is a great place to hone the skills you need to be a good PhD student. Yes, lots of MAPH alumni get into great PhD programs all over the place. But sometimes it takes another couple of rounds of applications. Sometimes people don’t want to do a PhD anymore. Sometimes people just don’t have the luck when they need it. However it’s going to go down, MAPH will help you prepare for it. Use what they have to offer. Work hard in lots of different ways.
MAPH is a great place to (more really good advice I got) “put yourself in the path of opportunity.” Come and visit, ask lots of questions, and listen to the answers. Question marks and and open minds lead to revelatory experiences in MAPH. That’s my experience, anyway. And I think it’s available to anyone.

PS: One last note—

MAPH is expensive. There’s not much aid available to Master’s students. You’re likely to go into a fair amount of debt to do it. You may want to ask people if it’s “worth it.” It’s an impossible question to answer, not least because it asks for a false equivalence between knowledge and debt. Whether to take on the debt, if that is your lot, is a personal decision.
I’ll say this about my decision: What if I hadn’t gotten into a PhD program? Would it have been “worth it?” I wouldn’t regret it, that’s for sure. I don’t regret it, even though I’m ostensibly training for a job in a mostly low-paying and disappearing profession. But I’m interested as a general state of being, and that doesn’t change whether I’m in a PhD program or not. And if you’re out there looking at this program and eyeing higher education, you’re probably interested, too. So maybe a better question is—how much do I want to get even better at being interested?


Maph Internships

Below are some brief descriptions of the internships offered through Maph for the Summer of 2015. But first, a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • You can apply for more than 1 internship, and in fact we encourage you to apply to multiple internships. The deadline is Monday, May 4th at 5:00 pm EXCEPT for the MAKE and the Spudnik Press internships.
  • Interns will be expected to provide 300 hours, 30 hours/week over 10 weeks (there is some flexibility here, be sure to communicate with Maren and with your supervisor). All interns will receive a salary of $3300.
  • Matt and I can, and will, look at the application materials for internships. Kerri and GSA are also great resources to utilize.
  • All materials should be submitted to the Maph office, except for Make Magazine and Sputnik Press which go through this site.

Adventure Stage Chicago

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Here We Go!


Colloquium went by so quickly. I blinked, it passed, and now all I have is a series of blurred images containing bagels, farmer’s markets, and power point presentations.

Fair warning- this quarter will pass by just as quickly. The quarter is only ten weeks, which is kind of terrifying when you look at a syllabus. But Fall Quarter also provides an established schedule and, mostly importantly, we get to enjoy free food and drink at social hour every Friday!

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Mentor Weekly Update: Week 1

Happy First Week, Maph!

Here are some reminders/deadlines/events to remember this week, amidst the excitement of classes starting!

I. Reminders:

-For the rest of the quarter, Core is from 12:00-1:20pm.
Core discussion groups will start this Thursday. Instead of lecture, half of you will be in Social Sciences 122 and the other half will be in Classics 110. There will be more info in lecture on Tuesday!

What Are the Humanities For?

Hello MAPHers!

I am Kerri Hunt and I am here to help you answer the often-daunting question of “What are the Humanities (or an MA in the Humanities) for?” In addition to working as a Preceptor, I am also the Career and Alumni Outreach Coordinator. In other words, I am MAPH’s in-house career advisor.


I am wise like an otter

I think of my role as MAPH career advisor as an extension and expansion of the part I play as a preceptor.  I’m here as an advisor, guide, and sounding board to help you make the most of your time in MAPH (and thereafter), with a particular focus on helping you think through the value of your studies and your degree.

“Value” here could mean economic value – how to leverage the relationships and skills you’ve built here to advance your career – but I’m also interested in discussing with you the other senses of “value” that led you here, to spend a year devoted to humanistic study.

This means that while I am available to review a cover letter, read a draft personal statement, or connect you with alumni in a relevant field, I am also concerned with the more nebulous task of helping you figure out ways to integrate your personal values and intellectual interests into your life after MAPH, whether or not you decide to pursue an academic career.

For those of you considering a PhD, I can provide insight into what it means to become a professional academic and help you use your coursework here to test whether further graduate studies are for you. If you do decide to apply to PhD programs, I can discuss strategies for building relationships with faculty; help you decide where to apply; and read drafts of your personal statement.

For those of you who are considering other careers — or jobs between MAPH and a PhD program — I can read resumes, give advice on job hunting, and put you in touch with alumni in the fields of your interests. Essentially, I am here to connect you to all the career-related resources offered by MAPH and the University of Chicago.

These include:

  • Career counselors at Graduate Student Affairs
  • GSA programming, including the Getting a Start In series, networking tutorials, and practice interviews
  • MAPH’s Teaching in the Community College class and associated programming
  • GradUCon, GSA’s January career fair for graduate students
  • The University-wide alumni network
  • Linkedin groups and resources

Also coming up soon: MAPH Alumni Career Night on November 12th. Have this event on your calendar and in the back of your mind as the quarter begins. It is an excellent opportunity to connect with alumni and learn more about popular career fields.
Just as your preceptor should be your first contact for all your questions about navigating MAPH and the University of Chicago, think of me as your point person for all career- and life path-related questions, concerns, anxieties, humorous anecdotes, etc.  This goes double for those of you who are still undecided about your future path: if you are hoping to use your MAPH year as an opportunity to explore options, change careers, grow as a person, or just figure out your next step, please come meet with me soon!

In the weeks to come, I hope to connect with every one of you – even if it’s just to say hello and introduce ourselves.  (Please bear with me as I learn all of your names.)  During Fall quarter (i.e., starting September 29) I’ll have set office hours every Tuesday and alternate Wednesdays. You can sign up in the MAPH office.  I’m also available by appointment, or to chat whenever you see me in MAPH Central, at Social Hour, or around campus.

I look forward to meeting you all!



Colloquium 2014 Schedule

Dear MAPHers,

Colloquium has arrived! Alien! Henry James! Bagels! There is clearly a lot to keep track of in these first two weeks, so below is a schedule of various goings on. Colloquium is still a good time to get done any errands (refer back to our To Do List post for recommendations) and to keep exploring the city in your downtime. But feel free to stop by the office with questions or to say hello!

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