Lo! Behold the bleak, surrealist landscape of Winter Quarter.
Come winter in MAPH, most students find that they have much less structured time than they did in fall. Without Core twice a week and the set precept/social hour schedule on Fridays, the average MAPHer’s week looks very different from the fall.Winter inevitably means lots of unstructured time and lots to accomplish in ten weeks—which makes time management one of the biggest challenges this quarter.
For instance, I know a lot of you only have Tuesday/Thursday classes this quater—how do you make sure you’re structuring M/W/F (and the weekend) to stay on track and keep making progress with your thesis, course readings, and job hunts? Keep reading for some tips on managing your time and staying productive through the long winter months!
Winter quarter contains a lot of uncertainty.
Who do I want to be my advisor? How do I ask him or her? What is my thesis object (some of you may not know yet- hang in there!)?
What will I eat on Fridays, now that social hour is only once every few weeks?
I have so many questions!
How can I do reading for class as well as for my thesis? There are only 24 hours in a day, and I need 8 of them for sleeping!
And then there is the question on so many of our minds- What will the last season of Parks & Recreation be like? What happened in that three-year time jump? So many questions!
Below is a Q & A with our very own Writing Advisor, Jeff McMahon. Read below for advice on writing, particularly the final papers everyone is facing right now. Both Matt and I met with Jeff last year and benefited from his advice and the opportunity to talk through our own writing blockage.
Exactly a year ago, I went into Jeff’s office for help with a 20 page paper on 3 different objects and left about 30 minutes later, tired but optimistic, with 1 cohesive argument. Remember, too, that you can meet with Jeff to discuss papers, the thesis, and principles of argument throughout the year.
You may be solely focused on completing your finals right now. That is fine and, in that case, feel free to return to this post in the future.
However, if you are also starting to think about the thesis, read on!
Late November feels like a weird time, or at least it did for me last year. Mostly because we’re encouraged to think about the thesis, but without taking any action. Meaning, I was told to think about potential advisors, but not to approach them. Or to think about my object, but not to write about it yet. All of this felt somewhat confusing and frustrating… but it was all excellent advice. Continue reading
This is a guest post by the very awesome, much-beloved Evan Stoner, discussing his experience in MAPH, pursuing the Creative Writing Option. (I also recommend that you check out his related post on AWP here.)
Yes, And: Evan Stoner (’14) on Pursuing the Creative (Writing) Option
For anyone considering MAPH’s creative option, even for a fleeting moment, this post is for you!
One of the great things about MAPH is that all of you have so many options, and I strongly encourage you to think about all of them. The creative option is unique, because even though my thesis ended up being a creative writing project, there are lots of other possibilities.
Your argument is promising – it just needs to be reorganized.
In Spring Quarter, MAPH is hosting a pair of conferences, both of which will provide you with (1) a new perspective on your thesis and invaluable feedback for your revision process; (2) practice presenting your work in distilled form and fielding questions, which is an important skill for up-and-coming academics, and also extremely useful in the job market. Read on for details!
It’s nearly impossible to believe, but you are nearing the end of Winter quarter—the hardest quarter of your MAPH year. If you are a typical MAPH student, you have three classes worth of papers coming due, your thesis is in that wonderful, horrifying stage of gestation when it refuses to come out coherently on paper despite your preceptor’s gentle and well-meaning insistence, and this Chicago winter is still actively trying to murder you.
But take heart—we in the office are here to help you get through. Next week, we have reserved Classics 110 for three mini write-ins to help you get your end-of-quarter work done. Come to Classics 110 from 9-12 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 2-5 on Friday for a quiet place to work and a
unhealthy supply of coffee. This will be a space just for MAPH students to read and write and push through the rest of this quarter in studious solidarity.
We are planning a fantastic Spring quarter for you, unimaginably far away though it may seem now. More announcements through MAPHCentral and the blog are forthcoming.
The MAPH Office
When I went home last December, it was the first time I’d been back to my hometown since August. The plan was to spend a couple of days seeing friends, playing video games, and petting my stunningly decrepit old cat, then hit the books with great intensity and seriously get the jump on my thesis. That didn’t really happen. At all. The glorious wallowing lasted several days past its planned expiration date, and by the time I got up the courage even to look at my reading list, the break was already close to 1/3 of the way over. As a result, I had to do the bulk of my reading here instead of knocking it out while I was here. So the first thing you might want to consider as you head off for winter break is:
Every year around mid-November, as the wind whirls among the fallen leaves, it whispers the name of a dormant dread: “theeessssssiiissss… theeeEEEEEeeessiiIIIIiiisss…” To MAPHers, this change in the air can bring both excitement and apprehension – both of which are entirely appropriate responses to the slow ramping-up of the thesis-writing process.
FEAR NOT! Well, ok, fear a little bit…but just a little! We mentors have put together a field guide to the preliminary stages of writing a MAPH thesis. Hopefully it will answer some of your more pressing questions.
A guest post by Bill Hutchison (MAPH ’12), an enthusiastic library patron, one of last year’s mentors, and a current PhD candidate in English at UChicago. Bill will also talking with Matti Bunzl at today’s The Work of a Humanist: A Conversation with Matti Bunzl (PhD ’98).
Go towards the light!!
“Libraries raised me.”
The UChicago library system is—as it should be—a labyrinthine construct with countless treasures, secrets, and codes. Discovering what it holds and how to access it can be one of the great pleasures of graduate school. If you, like me, take tremendous joy from learning how to wield your library to your own wild, intellectual ends, take note: herein I will share with you some of my discoveries. Continue reading