Category Archives: Events

Times, Dates, Locations.

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.

Distinquished Faulty Lecture

MAPH Distinguished Faculty Lecture: Janice Misurell-Mitchell & W.J.T. Mitchell

We are excited to announce that this quarter’s distinguished faculty lecture will be “Image, Sound, Text: From Theory tScreen Shot 2016-01-15 at 10.26.26 AMo Performance” by Janice Misurell-Mitchell and W.J.T. Mitchell. The lecture will take place at 4pm on Tuesday, January 19th in Classics 110, and will be followed by a reception.

Janice Misurell-Mitchell is a composer, lecturer, flutist and vocal artist, and teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been a featured composer at Art Chicago, the University of North Carolina – Greensboro New Music Festival, the International Alliance for Women in Music Congress in Beijing, the Voices of Dissent series at the Bowling Green College of Musical Arts, the Randspiele Festival in Berlin. For many years she was a Co-Artistic Director and performer with CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. Her most recent CD, Vanishing Points, music for solo, duo, quartet was chosen by Peter Margasak of The Chicago Reader as one of the top five new music recordings in “Our Favorite Music of 2013”.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 10.26.50 AMW.J.T. Mitchell teaches in both the English and the Art History departments at the University of Chicago. He also edits the interdisciplinary journal, Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. He works particularly on the history and theories of media, visual art, and literature, from the eighteenth century to the present. His work explores the relations of visual and verbal representations in the culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). At the University of Chicago this quarter, he is teaching a class entitled “Aesthetics of Media: Image, Music, Text.”

All MAPH students are encouraged to attend this exciting, one-of-a-kind event. We hope to see you there!


MLK Events & Other Happenings

Happy second week! Now that we’re well and truly into the swing of winter quarter, we’re lucky enough to have a break from classes next Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday (Fun Fact: his birthday is actually on Friday. MLK shares his birthday with Danish footballer Nicolai Jørgensen and Latvian basketball player Aija Putniņa, whereas January 18, of course, is the birthday of 16th-century Italian-English composer Alfonso Ferrabosco the elder.)

Anyway, if you feel like doing something fun and productive with your day off, then you’ve come to the right blog post! The university has loads of events this weekend, from a ceremony in the chapel to a huge variety of great service events. The links below should help you to plan an excitingly elongated wintry weekend.

Today, Monday 11th at 6 p.m in the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, the university will hold its annual MLK Commemoration Celebration. Van Jones, CNN Contributor and Author, will offer MLK2016.web_.900x400.x2.05the keynote address.  The program also features a conversation with special guest Nikki Giovanni, Poet and Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech University, and Theaster Gates, Professor in the Department of Visual Arts and the College and Director of Arts + Public Life. Find out more about this event here!

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How to Do MAPH on a Budget: Part 2

MAPHletes! You are sprinting towards mid-quarter and keeping up a great pace! You’re starting to feel a bit of chill in the air, and it can be easy to just hole up in the Regenstein and study. (Note: studying is good and generally encouraged.) But while it’s still livable outside you might also want to explore more of Hyde Park and clear your mind. What better way to do so than with free stuff? To point you in that direction, here’s the second installment of Morgan Podraza’s “How to Do MAPH on a Budget.”  Enjoy!

10 Free Things to Do in Hyde Park:

blogpicAIf you live in Hyde Park, it’s going to be difficult to get out of Hyde Park during MAPH. For me, I was always thinking things like: “but that hour that I spend traveling back-and-forth could be spent in an attempt to understand what Lauren Berlant means by a slow death.” Don’t worry! There are plenty of great things to do in HP between paragraphs of LB.

The Smart Museum of Art (5550 S. Greenwood Ave.)

This museum is located on campus and collaborates with scholars to “establish itself as a driving force for creative thinking through the arts at the University of Chicago.” The exhibits include Asian art, contemporary art, something referred to as “old master” European art, and modern art/ design.

The Oriental Institute (1155 E. 58th Street)


This museum is located on campus between the Quad and the Booth school. Not only does the Oriental Institute have amazing artifacts of the ancient Near East, including a statue of King Tut, but the museum also offers free programs and events throughout the year. An orientation week event, for example, is “Bulls and Buns:” get some of Anne Sather’s famous cinnamon rolls while you check out collections from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Israel!

Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore Drive)

The Museum of Science and Industry is a great building with an interesting history, but it is also HUGE. The bottom level has an entire WWII German U-505 submarine. While the museum can be expensive to visit most days, there are a bunch of FREE DAYS. Just bring your student ID, and you can spend the entire day learning about everything from robots to humpback whales.

Promontory Point


Promontory Point (known also as The Point) has an incredible view of the city and is a lovely place to lay in the sun, or under the trees, and relax. The Point also has a few fire pits, which are the perfect places to eat s’mores and enjoy the company of other MAPHers, but you will need to either get there early to reserve a pit or potentially hang out with some other Pointers.


57th Street Beach (57th street and Lake Shore Drive)

As a New Mexican, I was so excited to live next to an actual body of water with an actual beach. 57th Street Beach is a lovely beach and a short walk from Promontory Point. Bring something cold to drink and a book to read (perhaps Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1) for a warm day in the sand.  (Editor’s note: our warm days might be behind us… But the Point and beach are looking beautiful in their autumnal dressings!)

Osaka Japanese Garden (6401 S. Stony Island Ave.)

blogpic3The Osaka Japanese Garden is a zen-like refuge from the fast-pace of Chicago and MAPH. While the Garden closed for renovations this past spring, I believe that it should be re-opened this upcoming spring.



The Arts Incubator (301 E. Garfield Blvd.)

The Arts Incubator fosters the relationship between public life and art through arts education, community events, exhibitions, performances, and talks. One of the weekly events that I enjoyed was Committed Knitters, where you can bring your coffee and current knitting project to meet other knitters and learn new techniques!

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 East 60th Street)

blogpic4The Logan Center is that crazy grey, glass building that stands across the Midway—my favorite building on campus. There is always something free to enjoy in the Logan Center: the Cabaret Series happens every other week and includes everything from string quartets to slam poets; every Sunday you can listen to music from the Sunday Song Styles performances in the café; and there are always exhibitions of contemporary art throughout the building.

The Experimental Station (6100 S. Blackstone Ave.)

The Experimental Station is located south of the Midway and hosts a variety of artistic and cultural events, including music, theater, art exhibitions, workshops, and lectures. It is also the home of the 61st Street Farmers Market, which happens every Saturday from 9AM-2PM throughout the year (even in the winter!).

University of Chicago Events

blogpicTake advantage of all of the amazing, free events that the University of Chicago offers students! There are so many events to enjoy on campus: the student circus, yoga classes, tea & pipes at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, lectures by world-renowned faculty, the Blessing of the Animals, Pet Love (the University brings therapy dogs onto campus, and you just pet them!), and more. To keep track of all the events and happenings, download the University of Chicago app.

MAPH City Farm visit – Prepare to get muddy!


Last year’s MAPH cohort at the City Farm

City Farm is an urban farm located in between the Loop and Lincoln Park, and is a start-of-year MAPH tradition of sorts. On Wednesday 9th September (four days before our opening BBQ and film screening!) we’ll visit the farm and volunteer for a couple of hours, hanging out with their chickens and weeding vegetables. In previous years we’ve found this is a great way to explore Chicago’s public transit for the first time, get out of Hyde Park, meet fellow MAPHers and do something active and helpful for the Chicago community. The visit to the City Farm is free and all new MAPHers are welcome. This will be the first of several MAPH service events throughout the year – for instance, in the past we’ve done trips to the Chicago Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity Build Days, which have proved to be great opportunities to get out the library and do something constructive within the community with fellow MAPHers and mentors.

On Wednesday 9th, we’ll meet in the MAPH Lounge at the Classics Building on campus before venturing up to the farm on public transport, so this is a great chance to start on the CTA and show off your new Ventra card (by the way, if you don’t have one already the best places to buy these are probably CVS or Walgreens!). After working in the garden (in comfortable clothes and shoes, sunscreen, and maybe a straw hat?), we’ll take the Red Line back down to Hyde Park together.

Below are some tips from City Farm themselves on what to expect from the day:


Green-fingered MAPHers on the City Farm (not pictured – green fingers)

Farming is hard work! Come prepared to get dirty and sweaty. You may expect to do things like:

  • Weeding (lots of weeding)
  • Tilling the soil
  • Hauling & spreading resources like compost, mulch, or straw
  • Picking up garbage (it is an Urban Farm after all!)
  • Washing equipment
  • Transplanting seedlings or thinning sprouts in the beds

What to Bring

It is super important to be prepared for the weather on the farm. In Chicago, the weather can be unpredictable! Make sure to check the weather the morning of your visit, but be prepared for a sudden change in temperature. It happens.

  • Boots are recommended (even in the summer!)
  • Headgear and/or sunscreen if you need them
  • A water bottle
  • Work gloves (we have extras of these if needed)
  • Rain gear (when appropriate)

What City Farm Provide


Weeding on the farm

We want your visit to be memorable, informative, and inspiring. Our farmers will give you a tour of our operation, including hoop houses, compost, wash/processing area, etc. before putting you to work. We’ll also talk about our mission and impact in Chicago. We’ll encourage you to taste the food that we’re growing. Plus, we’ll provide a snack.

Shoot an email to Jess at if you think you can make it, just so we can get an idea of numbers. We’ll meet outside the Classics building at 11am before embarking on an adventure on the 55 bus, Red Line and through downtown Chicago. We hope to see you there!

Your Mentors

Welcome, MAPH class of 2016!

Hi new MAPHers,

Welcome to the MAPHtastic blog, your source of information about all things MAPH! We are your three program Mentors, Michael, Jess, and Clancey, and we will be updating this blog throughout the year with event information, advice on making the most of your year at UChicago, suggestions for things to do around the city, and occasional fun links. We will also be posting periodically on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All three of us graduated from the program back in June, and are really looking forward to working in the MAPH office this year as a resource for all of you. We are here to help you navigate the exciting, hectic year you are about to embark upon, plan fun social events and offer advice on anything and everything from choosing electives to choosing lunch. Feel free to stop by and say hi whenever you get to Chicago! We will be here through the summer in the Classics Building 117, and you can email us at,, or

We can’t wait to meet all of you, and in the meantime here’s a little about us.

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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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