Category Archives: Events

Times, Dates, Locations.

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Campus Days 2016: What to Do if You Get Here Early!

Here at MAPHCentral, we are gearing up for Campus Days 2016 and are excited to meet everyone this weekend! You can find an outline of the schedule for Campus Days here and a more detailed schedule here.  

If you get to Chicago before Campus Days or have some time here afterwards, or if you are a current student hosting someone and want to point out things to do and see, below are some suggested spots and activities!

Within Hyde Park


Promontory Point

Although this weekend your focus will likely be on the University, Hyde Park as a whole has a lot to offer. To enjoy some time outside, we strongly recommend Promontory Point, the east end of 55th Street. Promontory Point provides one of the most beautiful views of the Chicago skyline and of Lake Michigan. If the weather is warm, we also recommend taking a stroll on the Lakeshore Path.

Hyde Park also has several bookstores worth browsing. We have the Seminary Co-op (which is also next to one of our favorite coffee shops, Plein Air Cafe), and its sister store, 57th Street Books. On 55th is an excellent selection of used books at Powell’s. (Also, there are often a couple of boxes of free books, of mixed quality, on the sidewalk outside Powell’s. Who doesn’t love free books?)

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Spring Break Write-In

Planning on writing during Spring Break? Looking for something to keep you motivated?

Regardless of whether you have a thesis, seminar paper, or other project to work on, Spring Break can a good moment to catch up, even while you’re taking a deep breath. At the same time, it can feel Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.45.46 AMdifficult to get motivated and isolating to work–especially when it seems like no one is on campus, and there’s no class to attend. From March 21-25, join master’s students from across programs for three hours (9AM-1PM in Classics 110) of intensive writing each day.

UChicagoGRAD will provide coffee and breakfast on Day One, and lunch every day. Lunch is from 12-1. You’re free to keep writing after, until 1:45. Put your money where your mouth is: put down a deposit of $50. If you attend every day throughout the week, you get your money back, no questions asked! Space is limited as this is annually a popular event. Bring your Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.46.02 AMdeposit to Levi Hall 224. Questions? Contact Kalee Ludeks ( To register, follow this link!

This much-loved event is not to be missed!

If you have any questions about this event or maintaining winter-quarter momentum over Spring Break, do come see the mentors.

All the best,

The Mentors

Works In Progress Conference 2016

Last Friday, eight MAPH students presented their ongoing thesis research at our annual Works in Progress Conference. Working on topics ranging from Art History to Linguistics and Music Philosophy to Cultural Studies, each of our presenters shared fascinating, nuanced projects that are well on their way to becoming impressive MA theses in the spring. You can find summaries of the conference papers and photos from the event below.

Kate Schlachter

Kate Schlachter

Kate Schlachter‘s project focuses on a tapestry and performance piece by artist Indira Allegra entitled “Saint Davis of Savannah”, and explores how we can use the concept of witnessing as a framework for considering the elastic relationship between presence and event in trauma.

Nick Rekenthaler is currently working on a creative thesis project which takes the form of a fiction novella. The analytic component to Nick’s thesis draws on the philosopher Ian Hacking’s concept of ‘making up people’, a process of creating new categories of being through assigning a specific label to a person.

Nick Rekenthaler

Nick Rekenthaler

Sam Grayck‘s  thesis is a comparative endeavor to break down the relationship between two major First World War literary texts, Undertones of War, by Edmund Blunden, and Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel. Sam argues that each ostensible “memoir” is actually a highly crafted creative work, comprised of three dominant layers: real events, artistic rendering, and collective memory.

Nic Holt focuses in his project on the video artist Juan Downey’s 1973 performance installation Plato Now, which is loosely based on Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” Nic examines the ways in which Downey simulates and diverges from this source material in an attempt to provide a re-conceptualization of the Platonic Idealism the allegory was originally devised to illustrate.


Panel 1 Q&A Session, L-R: Moderator Matt Hauske, Kate Schlachter, Nick Rekenthaler, Sam Grayck, Nic Holt

Julia Gantman

Julia Gantman

Julia Gantman‘s thesis project explores images of sight and vision in Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Julia considers how these images relate to language drawn from Joseph Priestley’s eighteenth-century accounts of optics and light in Vision, Light, and Colours.

Trevor McCulloch’s project looks at the visual construction and architectural spaces of two films directed by Nicholas Ray: Rebel Without a Cause and Bigger than Life. Trevor focuses on the domestic spaces represented within the two films in order to uncover how their unique visual approaches to architecture constitute and reflect the anxieties concerning gender identity in 1950s America.

Trevor McCulloch

Trevor McCulloch

Sarah Welch‘s project is an examination of a merge between gerunds and participles in the syntax-semantics subfields of linguistics. Whilst linguists agree that the two word types appear to be merging, Sarah argues that the two have certain fundamental differences.

Jake Mecham is working on a project in Music Philosophy. Jake claims that the problem of music’s capacity is what of music remains after layers of symbolism have been stripped. As part of his project, Jake dissects semantically over-determined musical examples to show how our musical outlook changes as we grow from infancy to adulthood, and, more importantly, how it stays the same.

Panel 2 Q&A Session, L-R: Julia Gantman, Trevor McCulloch, Sarah Welch, Jake Mecham

Panel 2 Q&A Session, L-R: Julia Gantman, Trevor McCulloch, Sarah Welch, Jake Mecham

Thank you to Kate, Nick, Sam, Nic, Julia, Trevor, Sarah and Jake, and to Matt, our moderator. Moreover, thanks so much to all of those MAPH students, preceptors and faculty who came out to support our presenters.


MAPH Talent Show 2016

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made, what’s a sundial in the shade?”                     ―Benjamin Franklin

MAPH’s very own Talent Show is this Friday at 3pm in Classics 110! Normally noted as the “best event” of the year, the Talent Show is your opportunity to show off those hidden, err, talents! You can sign up in the MAPH office. There will be beer, wine, soda, pizza and fun in plentiful supply.

Not sure which talent to showcase? Check out these videos for inspiration:

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Works in Progress & How to Give a Talk Talk

Each year, MAPH hosts a Works in Progress Conference where a select number of students present on their ongoing thesis work and get the opportunity to answer questions and obtain feedback from their peers.  The How to Give a Talk Talk works well as a precursor to the Works in Progress Conference and also provides some insight into how exactly academics come to share their work with a larger audience. These annual and well-beloved MAPH event celebrates the newbackcollaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the MAPH thesis. Past presenters have presented on topics ranging from Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison to the American funeral industry to the logic of choice to the ideas of courtly love present in the poems of Edmund Spenser. You can read about last year’s presenters  here.

This year’s conference will begin at 12pm on Friday, February 26th in Harper 140. There will be two panels of four presenters each, with a short break in-between. Presenters will have 8-10 minutes to talk about their topics, with a Q&A after each panel. Afterwards we’ll all head over to the Smart Museum and have some drinks to celebrate the spirit of MAPH intellectualism and collegiality, and to keep the conversation going.

If you’re interested in presenting, please email a very brief description of your thesis topic to by 12pm on Friday, February 12th. The mentors, in concert with the rest of the MAPH faculty and staff, will choose 8 presenters from the submitted materials. Here are some guidelines for your submissions:

Don’t labor too hard over the description. It should be a short paragraph, probably 5 sentences max. We aren’t expecting your thesis work to be super specific or developed at this point. Just give us a topic and an interesting question or two, and we’ll go from there.

11035610_939174466107490_9095511440115763583_nHow to Give a Talk Talk

The How to Give a Talk Talk is the event to attend to both prepare for the WIP conference and to  get a sense of what it’s like to present at a conference. Several preceptors will share their tips, experiences and general know-how about presenting and attending conferences. This year’s talk will be held on Friday February 19th at 1:00pm. I had a class last year in which we had to present 20 minute conference papers and found this talk very helpful. Plus, Hauske has a special presentation not to be missed!

If you have any questions about WIP or the Talk Talk, feel free to reach out!

All the best,

The Mentors


Managing Winter Quarter Stress Part Two: Wellness

Investing your time in relaxing activities and involving yourself in the greater Chicago community are both things that you can do to greatly improve your outlook and overall winter-quarter experience. Below you’ll find a quick list of activities that are a must try for combating winter stress.

Wellness & Relaxation
Drop in on one of these events once, twice or weekly.

Tea & Pipes – Wednesday at 4:30-5 pm (but tea is served as early as 4!)

Let your brain turn off for a half hour and relax to the sound of gentle, relaxing pipe music. Then, refreshed and well caffeinated, return to the library to finish studying, guilt-free. Most people, myself included, would spend the same amount of time mindlessly browsing the internet.
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Managing Winter Quarter Stress Part One: The Second Annual Maphle Raffle

It’s no surprise that winter quarter can be stressful. There’s a lot going on and a lot to have to keep tabs on: class assignments, thesis progress, social events, etc. Despite this, there are many ways to ease the tension and anxiety that comes with having such a heavy workload. It may surprise you to learn that one of the best ways to cope with winter-quarter stress is to do more. Getting out of Hyde Park, investing your time relaxing activities and exploring the city are all things that can greatly improve both your outlook and overall winter-quarter experience.

As such, we are very excited to announce that the Annual Maphle Raffle will take place next Friday, January 29th at Social Hour!

Disclaimer: May be tepid

Disclaimer: May be tepid

This is how the Maphle Raffle works:

  • Between now and lunchtime next Friday, bring us a ticket, stub, receipt, souvenir, photo etc. from any location in the city outside of Hyde Park, and we will put said ticket (or your name) into our top hat.
  • On Friday the 29th, the mentors will draw two names out of the hat and name the winners of two fantastic prizes (to be announced at the drawing.)

Escape from Hyde Park and explore the city despite the arctic temperatures, with a double incentive of both fun and prizes. So please, go and have fun, provide us with an evidential token, and enter to win big!

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Alumni Interview with Seth Perlow

Seth Perlow, MAPH ’06, will be returning to UChicago to present his paper, “Making Strangers with Friends: Frank O’Hara and the Telephone,” at the Poetry and Poetics Workshop. The workshop will be held on Monday, January 25th in Rosenwald 405, 4:30 – 6PM. Having obtained his PhD from Cornell in 2013, Seth is now an assistant professor in the English Department at the University of Oklahoma.

Seth kindly agreed to answer some questions we, the Mentors, asked him about his work, the paper he will be presenting, his MAPH experience, and his path from MAPH to where he is now.

How has MAPH impacted your career choices?  What has your career trajectory been like since graduating and how did your experience in MAPH affect this?

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Like many students beginning MAPH, I hoped afterwards to pursue a PhD and an academic career. A year of experience in graduate school leads some MAPHers to rethink this plan, but I was not dissuaded and applied to several PhD programs in English the autumn after graduating. When I began the MAPH program, I knew my undergraduate work had not fully prepared me to be a competitive applicant to top doctoral programs, so the MAPH experience for me involved not only learning a great deal intellectually but also learning what it means to be a graduate student and how to succeed in those early professional steps. Along with support from the UChicago faculty I got to know, the MAPH directors and preceptors were extraordinarily helpful as I began to develop applications to doctoral programs; several continued to consult with me and wrote recommendation letters after I had graduated and moved away. After MAPH, I enjoyed one belated “gap year,” during which I worked as a copyeditor in New York, completed graduate school applications, and then moved to Paris for six months to learn a little French. I then enrolled in the PhD program in English at Cornell University. When I began doctoral work, I found that MAPH had prepared me to succeed in graduate study by helping me develop advanced research skills, scholarly discipline, and most importantly the sense of intellectual community that keeps me engaged with research. Since finishing at Cornell in 2013, I have worked as an assistant professor of English at Oklahoma State University, as the NEH Postdoctoral Fellow in Poetics at Emory University, and now as an assistant professor of English at the University of Oklahoma.

What kind of academic projects and questions are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a book manuscript titled The Poem Electric: Technologies of Uncritical Thinking in American Poetry, which identifies a lineage of experimental writers who use electronics to distinguish poetic thought from rationalism. Most scholars studying the relation between literature and technology understand electronics as “information technologies,” instruments for logical, data-oriented tasks, but anyone who has used a computer knows electronics just as often leave us disoriented, confused, inspired, or excited—mental states not typically associated with cool, rational thinking. Writers in The Poem Electric use electronics to pursue and sustain these less orderly mental states, which they view as poetically valuable in one way or another. Of course, there is a long tradition of valuing poetry for its uncritical character, its difference from rationalism; this tradition goes back at least to the romantic poets and arguably much farther. So one question motivating this study is to ask what happens when a literary genre so often valued for its difference from critical thinking begins to circulate through a family of technologies predominantly understood as logic-engines, rational machines. To answer, this project looks at writing by a wide range of poets and scholars, from Emily Dickinson and Gertrude Stein to Frank O’Hara, Susan Howe, and Jackson Mac Low.

What does your role at the University of Oklahoma look like on a day-to-day basis?

At the University of Oklahoma, I teach graduate and undergraduate seminars in American literature, poetry and poetics, and new media studies. As a tenure-track faculty member, I also spend time developing my own research and undertaking service for the department, the university, and the profession.

What drew you to further graduate studies in poetry and poetics?

I became interested in poetry during middle school. Perhaps at my own peril, I took seriously the parental truism that I could do whatever I wanted with my career, so I decided to work with poetry professionally long before I had a realistic idea what doing so would entail. Both my expectations and my priorities have changed a lot since then, but I’m still finding new kinds of inspiration and intellectual challenge in poetry and its criticism.

How have you integrated your academic and creative interests into your career?  How would you suggest that current students think about this for their future?

Only after completing my PhD and having the incredible good fortune to find a tenure-track job has it become clear to me just what a wide variety of humanities-related career paths are out there. This is something I’ve learned in part from my own students and in part from my peers in graduate school who did not continue to pursue academic careers. Among these many possibilities, I’m very lucky to have a job that directly involves teaching and writing about the literature that interests me most; it’s a wonderful kind of work. No doubt current MAPH students are aware that tenure-track professorships in the humanities become rarer every year and that the employment conditions for non-tenure-track instructors, even at the best universities, can be very unpleasant. I am therefore tempted to offer the standard admonition against pursuing an academic career in the humanities, but I received that warning plenty of times myself and did not heed it. Instead, here are three thoughts for those considering a similar career path. First, if you hope to find a tenure-track position, you will have to be not only smart and industrious but also very lucky. There are so many applications for such jobs that a certain amount of randomness inevitably shapes the outcome; trying to accept this fact may spare you some anguish as you complete your PhD. Second, if you would not be willing to relocate to any conceivable part of the US, or perhaps abroad, then you probably should not pursue a PhD in the humanities. Applying for tenure-track positions only in certain areas is a great way not to get a tenure-track job. Third and most importantly, if you decide to pursue a PhD in the humanities, try to develop a “plan B,” a career you’d find interesting that would not involve teaching college. Many great students graduating from the best PhD programs cannot find suitable academic employment, and when my own professional future was less certain I envied those who already had some idea what they’d enjoy doing instead.

Could you tell us a little about the paper you’ll be presenting at the Poetry and Poetics workshop, “Making Strangers with Friends: Frank O’Hara and the Telephone”?

This paper is an excerpt from the third chapter of The Poem Electric. Each chapter of the project focuses on a particular mode of uncritical thinking that poets use electronics to pursue. This chapter discusses anonymity. It argues that the poet Frank O’Hara counterposes the telephone with his techniques of poetic address—that is, his poetry’s calls to friends or to an anonymous “you”—in order to explore how anonymity and disconnection shape social experiences. Many scholars today criticize how electronics mediate our social lives, isolating us behind our screens even as they connect us, but in the 1960s O’Hara understood the social effects of electronics quite differently.