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.

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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Anywhere but the Reg: Alternate Study Spots around Campus

Welcome back, MAPH! As winter quarter begins, we’d like to cue you into some of our favorite and not too well known study spots in and around campus.

On Campus:

The Smart Museum Café (M-Fr 8am-4:30pm; Sat-Sun 11am-4:30pm)tumblr_inline_nrla95jV8t1ql85ks_540

Stuart Café (M-Fr 8am – 3pm)

Harris School Cafe (M-Fr 8am – 5pm)

Booth Café (M-Fr 7am-8pm; Sat 7am-3pm)

Logan Café ( M–Fr, 8 am–8 pm; Sat–Sun, 12pm–8pm)

Crerar Library (Sun-Th 8am-1am; Fr-Sat 8am-10pm)

Study Room on the first floor of the Center for the study of Gender and Sexuality (M-F 9am-5pm)

Library at the Oriental Institute (Hours: Closed M; T, Th-Sun 10am-5pm; W 10am-8pm)

Law Library Cafe, if you can get in (M-Th 8am – 5pm; Fr 8am – 3:30pm)

Hallowed Grounds (M-Th 8:30am-11:30pm; Fri 8:30am-9:00pm; Sat 11:30am-9:00pm; Sun 11:30am-11:30pm)

Bartlett Commons (M-Th 7am – 8:30pm; Fr 7am – 7:30pm; Sat 8am – 2:30pm; Su 8am – 8:30pm)

Stony Island Arts Bank (T-Sat 11am-6pm)

Close to Campus:

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Making Winter Break Work

Dear MAPH,

Winter break can be the perfect time to unwind, reflect on the past quarter and have a bit of a breather before the new year starts. Winter break is also the ideal time to start preliminary research on your thesis. As veterans of the thesis process, we mentors have a few thoughts about thesis work and winter break:

  • Take advantage of this time and remember that your thesis is in the preliminary research stage. You shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking that you should be crafting an argument now; rather, take this time to follow various argumentative threads and learn about your object, field, critical conversation or intended methodology. Having the time and space away from campus can allow you to do thesis work on your own time and without the pressures of classes and other projects too.
  • Ask yourself “What do I want out of the project?” Asked early, this question can solidify the real-world scope of your project. That is, your true-to-self aim in writing a thesis. Do you want to play with the idea of Aristotle or explore the role of arts in economic and community development? Do you want to write a thesis that has both creative and critical components or would you like to ground your project in a discipline-specific topic? The answers to these questions may not be obvious, but taking the time to ask yourself truthfully what it is that you want out of this project can help bring your possible abstract ideas and thoughts about the thesis into more concrete and manageable terms. Remember the project scope too: 25-35 pages. You may come up with approximately 15 different project ideas, but remind yourself of what’s possible.

Library Patron - Reading Room (apf2-05486r)

  • Read Judiciously. You won’t be able to read everything; don’t read all of EVERYTHING. Be smart about what you choose to read. If you find early on that a specific article is not invested in the same idiosyncrasies or particular line of investigation that you are, don’t be afraid to put it down! Do write down why that particular article or book didn’t work. Jot down a few sentence that explain why you didn’t like this source or why it didn’t jive with your analysis. Also, keep a list of the articles your read!
  • Just read. Getting started can be painful, but know that the time and energy invested now will pay off later in winter quarter. Trust us.

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What To Do This Weekend; Or, How To Avoid Finals at Thanksgiving

Spending Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago?

Hungry for t(of)urkey?

Don’t know how you’ll survive your first Social Hour-free Friday in two and a half months?

Don’t panic! Here’s our list of the best things to do around Hyde Park and the city.

Eat loads of food with your friends! As you may have already heard, there will be an assortment of free pies for your enjoyment in the MAPH Office until high noon today! Come by and pick one (or several) up and enjoy it tomorrow or over the weekend.

Celebrate the wreathing of the Lions at the Art Institute of Chicago: The Art Institute’s iconic lions have chilling out on Michigan Ave since the museum opened in 1893 (just after UChicago came into the world!), and for no apparent reason Chicagoans been putting wreathes around their necks every Christmas since 1991 (just after your dear mentors came into the world!). As always, you can get free entry with your school ID, and on Black Friday there will also be special decorations, drinks and live music.

Not like that.

Not like that.

Hit up the ChristkindlmarketThe German market at Daley Plaza is an excellent spot to buy eat a cheesy pretzel and Leberkaese, buy some Christmas presents for your parents and swig Gluhwein out of a tiny porcelain boot. Charge your phone beforehand because you will lose your friends in the crowd.



Skate everywhere: The skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is a great cold-weather

Your mentors like to get some festive exercise during the break, too.

Your mentors like to get some festive exercise during the break, too.

activity downtown. Closer to home, the Ice Rink on the Midway – just a stone’s throw from our very own Classics – opens for the season on Friday! You can rent skates at both of them, or, if you want to skip the lines, pick up your own second-hand skates at a thrift store (Bridgeport and Lakeview in particular have some great ones) and you can skate for free.



Go out for a drink: It’s holiday season! Time Out have kindly complied a list of bars in the city that are open this weekend (even on Thanksgiving itself), so we don’t have to.

Do nothing: Let’s face it, it’s been a crazily hectic quarter, and it’s not even over yet. Before you gear up for finals, take this weekend to chill out, relax, and pig out on Netflix.



Your Mentors