Finishing the Thesis: Do’s and Don’t’s

keep-calm-and-thesis-on-1Eighth Week is upon us, which means theses are due very soon. As you approach the Friday deadline, here are a few tips to keep you on track during one of the most hectic times of the MAPH year. Also, be sure to come by the office to let us know how things are shaping up!


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Spring Songs

imgres-3Hey Maph,

This time of year can be both very fun and very stressful, sometimes all at once. Below are some music recommendations to either celebrate the nice weather (perhaps for a bout of spring cleaning?) and/or to pump you up as you face thesis revisions.

For more great music, and even greater dance moves, check out the new Mentor video.

This is a varied list, but I’d love more recommendations from you guys! Feel free to suggest other songs down in the comments!

Always Spring- by I’m From Barcelona

Good Day Sunshine- by The Beatlesimgres

Good Feeling- by Flo Rida  Continue reading

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.

Where everybody knows your caffeine

Spring Quarter is upon us!

In your last quarter of Maph, I recommend leaving Hyde Park and continuing to explore the city. Certainly, this can be hard to do. There are rainy days, thesis books, etc. But there are great places to study and work all over this amazing city.img-thing

Below are some great coffee shops and study spots. It is really worth it to get up early, hop on some public transport, and get a break from Hyde Park. Looking back, I wish I did this more last year. Although I am very much a coffee-minded person, these places also have great food, tea, etc.

For a Cozy Spot:

Ipsento– Guys, this place is incredible. They have the most phenomenal specialty and seasonal drinks (I recommend the chai), plus sandwiches named after authors. My Maph comrades and I went here a few times last year and it remains one of my favorite places!

( Right off the blue line)

1421256346Café Mustache – this coffee shop is close to my heart. I am not much of a latter drinker, but they have amazing lattes. This place just has a great vibe, too. It is cozy and weird and as such feels very Maphy, but with the adv Continue reading

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?


A Guide to Transportation: Campus Days 2015

Hello Prospective Students!

We are excited to see you all for Campus Days this weekend and have some excellent events planned for you all. But first, here is some advice for getting to Hyde Park and even exploring Chicago, if you have time. Below are our recommendations for transportation. Feel free to email us ( if you have any questions!

From the Airport:

O’Hare: The Blue Line runs straight from ORD to the Loop, where you can grab any other L train or the buses that go to Hyde Park (see below).

ChicagoElevatedTrainMidway: The 55 bus goes straight from Midway to Hyde Park. The 55th & Ellis stop is essentially on campus, but some of you might be staying farther east, as ask your host (or Google) which stop you should use. You can also jump on the Orange Line from Midway. This will take you to the Loop, where you can grab a train to another neighborhood if you are staying/hanging out outside of Hyde Park.

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Campus Days: If You Get Here Early

If you get to Chicago before Campus Days, or have some time here afterwards, below are some suggested spots and activities!

Within Hyde Park


Osaka Garden inside Jackson Park

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, I strongly recommend Promontory Point, the east end of 55th Street. Promontory Point provides a beautiful view of downtown and of the lake. Further south is another beautiful park, Jackson Park. Jackson Park was created as part of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and still contains a lovely Japanese garden from the Fair.

Hyde Park also has several bookstores worth browsing. We have the Seminary Co-op (which is also next to one of Continue reading

Campus Days: Schedule of Events

Campus Days Schedule

April 12-13, 2015

Sunday, April 12th

1:00 pm Paul Durica, former Preceptor and owner of Pocket Guide to Hell will lead a tour of the secret history of UChicago (optional). Meet in front of the Reynolds Club.

3:00 pm Welcome from the Directors (Logan Center for the Arts, 2nd Floor Screening Room)

3:13 pm Readings from Colloquium (Logan Center for the Arts, 2nd Floor Screening Room)

4:00 pm Alumni Panel (Logan Center for the Arts, 2nd Floor Screening Room)

1335562301-logancenter5:00 pm Current Students Panel (Logan Center for the Arts, 2nd Floor Screening Room)

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