Tag Archives: U of C/Hyde Park

Chicago: Home of the Used Bookstores


If there’s one major character trait that all MAPHer’s tend to have in common, it’s a borderline nerd-level appreciation for books (and, perhaps, booze…but that’s a post for another day). Thankfully, you now (or soon will) live in a city that is chock-full of fantastic book stores ready to cater to your every-reading need. And, thankfully, you have three mentors who share this trait and are happy to impart our knowledge on to you.

So, take a break from Core prep reading (syllabus coming soon) and mosey on down to one or two (or all) of these gems to pick up some books that should really be on your summer reading list (see A-J’s post on non-required summer reading for several suggestions). And, be sure to share any good title recommendations with us at MAPH Central (see where to go after the jump)… Continue reading

What’s a preceptor and how did they get my email?

Virgil was Dante’s Preceptor.

Instead of flying home last year I had Thanksgiving dinner with my friend and her family, just outside of Chicago. When people asked me how I was enjoying graduate school, they seemed generally confused by the nature of the program, and my use of MAPH-specific terms that apparently don’t get much exercise outside of U of C. I was barraged with question after question. “So…it’s a one-year program?”  “You can DO a one year masters?” “What’s your major?” “It’s a masters in the Humanities? Well, that’s pretty BROAD, isn’t it?”

And of course: “What’s a preceptor?” (Find out, after the jump…) Continue reading

Summer FAQs

It really does look like this in Hyde Park right now

We at MAPHCentral are hard at work preparing for the arrival of all 119 new shining faces in less than four weeks. In the meantime, we know that the stress of (let’s just say for argument’s sake) packing up one’s things in Washington, DC, cramming them in a UHaul and driving cross country with one’s Mom (who loves the Beach Boys and only the Beach Boys) can weigh heavily on one’s leisure time in August.

On that ride, you’ll have plenty of time to think of questions. Here are some that typically come up this time of year, as pre-students get (understandably) excited about starting….

  1. Do I need to sign up for classes yet?” The more intrepid of you, without a doubt, will have already located the University Time Schedules. That’s a great place to start drooling over the academic cornucopia set before you on the table of plenty at the University of Chicago. BUT. Don’t fret about registration. All of that will take place DURING COLLOQUIUM after your arrival in September. (Good news: there are more things you don’t need to worry about after the jump…) Continue reading


Sure, we’re still waiting for Spring. But hey, that means more thesis time, RIGHT?

Prospective students have to decide by tomorrow whether to come to MAPH.  I’ve always thought it is a useful exercise (whether you’re a current student just finishing up the first draft of your thesis, or an alum from the class of 1997) to think about the reasons why you came to MAPH in the first place.  Thinking back to my own experience, I came to MAPH frustrated by the PhD application process, pretty panicked about my life, and very disappointed about my inability to make a decision about what I wanted “next.”  MAPH settled me down and made me think clearly about what a PhD would entail (and why it might not be a good fit for me).  Here’s an excerpt from my piece “Why a Terminal Master’s?”  Full text can be found here.

What were your reasons for coming to MAPH?  Are they the same now?  MAPHCentral would love to hear your comments.

Over the course of the past year working with MAPH I have spoken with a lot of our 1500 alumni. Our graduates live around the world and work in diverse fields—everything from non-profit management to hedge fund risk management. They find jobs in development, investment banking, law, journalism, advertising and public relations, corporate finance, secondary education, and curatorial research. One alumnus ran the 2008 Obama campaign’s finances in Florida.  One is studying to be a veterinarian. Others are administrators at charter schools, English teachers, guidance counselors, and of course, professors.

We have no astronauts.  Yet.

Why has a program that focuses so tightly on the development of humanistic skills produced successful alumni in diverse fields? It can’t just be that we leave the University with a healthy understanding of the classics and wind up running creative departments at advertising agencies. Rather, the breadth of success serves as compelling evidence that graduate work in the humanities can be (don’t laugh) integral to one’s long term career satisfaction. Graduate work in the humanistic disciplines improves one’s ability to engage in most activities that characterize the professional world.

That said, no one should trivialize the financial commitment of student loans that are associated with graduate school. I certainly don’t. My loans are growing, even as I type.  And they’re not going away any time soon. But I don’t cower in fear of them, and I certainly don’t dodge my statements when they arrive. The important thing to think about when considering whether to take the plunge (ie: take out huge loans) is that any graduate work should be seen as an investment in oneself, and an opportunity for self-enrichment that will accrue benefits in the long run.

Continued at My Footpath here.


Winter Breaks

So you are finally done with all your papers and want a cheap way to reward yourself before heading home, or you planned your winter travel badly and have a week to kill before you go home. Either way, it is a great opportunity to bundle up and see some of Chicago’s winter sights.

Ice skating

Ice Skating in Millennium Park

See the full list after the jump. . . Continue reading

Nap Map

But I am lez tiredzz…or maybe dead.  I can’t really tell, and I’m really sorry if this turns out to be a picture of a dead cat.

You’re on campus, you’ve got a huge block of time between classes, and you’re done with the reading for class.  Oh, and maybe you got, say, ten minutes of sleep last night.

But where oh where to catch some ZzzZzz’s?  Here are some great places for a power nap or productivity-ending/existential crisis-inducing/hair messing 3-hour REM sesh:

1) Harper Library: *Winner: most likely to wake up drooling on yourself not that that ever actually happened to me category*  Duh.  Pull up a big cozy chair in the Harry Potter Reading Room, and you’re out for two hours, easy.  Pull over two ottomans and you can lay down like it’s a Singapore Airlines flight in First Class.  Without the champagne.  Usually.

2) The Oriental Institute, Coffin of Meresamum: *Winner, best place to desecrate an already desecrated sacred artifact / get cursed category*  Free admission with your student ID, and there are hardly ever any guards around the Coffin.  I say, if Winter is already going to make you feel like the walking dead, embrace it.

3) The Social Sciences Tea Room: *Winner: Room that most feels like your grandmother’s house category* Off the beaten path a bit, and sometimes in use by various groups.  But this room is lit with golden sunlight and is usually heated to a coma-inducing 74 degrees in winter.  There are little bay windows that you can curl up in.  Best part is, it’s just upstairs from Core Lectures.  Just don’t pass out for too long.  You will almost definitely be kicked out by a Creative Writing department event.

More places to visit the Sandman after the jump… Continue reading

To Swim or Not To Swim (But Really….Go Swim).

MAPH Beach

The View from Above MAPH Beach

Hilary makes an excellent point about swimming in the Lake.  Namely, go swim in the freaking Lake.  As I mentioned in a previous post, unlike the Great Cities of the Eastern Megalopolis, it is extremely unlikely that you will find a dead body when you swim in Lake Michigan.  The unofficial “MAPH Beach”–so dubbed by last year’s coach of the unofficial-but-very-radical MAPH Swimming, Diving, and Sunbathing Team, Chris Burwell–is located on the north side of  Promontory Point, down along the rocks.  There are several very easy entrances into the water, but if you have tough feet and are, I dunno, trying to impress people you’ve just met, you can just jump in anywhere.  I hate to sound like your mom-grandma-older auntie-or whatever but DON’T dive.  At least not the first time.  On calm days, you can wade out for about 50-75 yards from the shore in waist or chest-deep water.  Very nice!

MAPH beach is not, strictly speaking, a beach, and if you crave sand for some strange reason, there are the 57th Street and 63rd Street Beaches.  The upside to MAPH Beach is that it is almost always uncrowded (except for, like, Sunday afternoons).  There is no lifeguard, but again, unless you’re afraid of drowning while standing up, you should be, probably, good to go.  As for more “scenester” beaches, check out the North Ave Beach.  There’s a bar shaped like a boat (Castaways), 800 trillion intense volleyball courts, and lots of bros.  So if you’re into that kind of thing, do it.  It’s very crowded on weekends, but you might say that just makes for “good people watching.” (The Lake, e. coli, and you….after the jump) Continue reading

Wild Monk Parrots!

Hey there, MAPHers,

I suspect that many of you are in various stages of planning, packing, or settling in to your places in Chicago.  In the midst of the stressful and exhausting process of moving, here’s a fun fact to get you excited about your new home: for the past 22 years, a fairly stable population of feral monk parrots (also known as quaker parrots) has thrived in Hyde Park.  Apparently, a number of these birds were shipped to the Chicago area from their native Argentina in the ’60s and ’70s to be sold as pets.  By the late ’70s, small groups of the escaped parrots could be seen nesting in local parks and on telephone poles.  Populations of wild monk parrots live in other regions of the U.S., but Hyde Park monk parrots are notable for their ability to weather the harsh Chicago winters.  The birds do not migrate, but instead, hunker down in their nests which serve as permanent dwellings over the course of the birds’ lives.  Those who study the birds (including University of Chicago Professor Stephen Pruett-Jones) have suggested that their survival through the winter months is due in large part to backyard bird feeders–in other words, the kindness of strangers.  I learned all of this (and more fascinating monk parrot info–including the fact that monk parrots have 11 distinguishable vocalizations here.

I have to say, I had heard about these adept creatures before my move to Hyde Park, but as I have recently discovered, it is a whole different experience to stumble upon them “in the wild”.  I came upon a rather large group of them yesterday while walking Sally, our MAPHscot (see earlier post!) at Florence Stout Park (55th and Greenwood).  It was an overwhelming and altogether unique experience.  This particular group of monks was obviously stirred up by the presence of the dog–they were incredibly vocal and active, flying ceaselessly from tree to tree and announcing our presence to the whole group.  I hope that all of you will be pleasantly surprised by such an encounter at some point during the year.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for these guys as you trip around Hyde Park.  And remember, if these guys can survive the winter, then so can we, gosh darnit!

And in case you’re thirsty…

Phil here, the mentor in the purple shirt in that photo of the three of us; I’m the one in the middle.

I’m just popping into let anyone who’s already here know about the best place to drink in Hyde Park if you’re new in town and not yet equipped with a Student ID, namely, Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap at 1172 E 55th Street (and Woodlawn Ave).  Jimmy’s is the perfect mix of a student and a local bar: comfortable environment, friendly people, $2.50 pints of Miller Light, cheap bar food until midnight, and the music isn’t too loud to have a conversation.

There’s also The Pub if you’re willing to pay 3 big ones at the door.  The Pub is the official student bar for the U of C, located on campus in Ida Noyes Hall, at 1212 E. 59th Street, on the Lower Level.  When you get your Student ID you can pay $10 for the year and never worry about the cover again.

Finally, AJ wouldn’t let me get away with failing to mention The Cove, located at 1750 E 55th St (between Everett Ave & South Shore Dr).  The Cove, AJ’s favorite bar in Hyde Park, is a well lit establishment frequented by locals and stocked with two electronic dart boards.  It’s fairly cheap, fairly friendly, and a great place to watch any sport that happens to be on at the moment given its several TV screens.

Looking to drink-in?  Check out Hyde Park Liquors located in the Kimbark Plaza at 1214 E 53rd St (between Woodlawn Ave & Kimbark Ave).  This place is cheap and huge.  That’s basically all there is to say about it.

Please drink responsibly!


You’re in Hyde Park!…now what?

Winter?  Please.  Right now, it seems a thousand years away.  Hyde Park in summer is about as sweet as neighborhoods in Chicago get.  During the day, there’s plenty to keep you busy, and at night either check out one of the few local restaurants and hangouts, or hop the Metra or #6 Bus up north (it will get a bit harder to justify escaping for the evening as work heats up and the temperatures plummet this fall).

Here are some basics to keep you busy in Hyde Park as you rest up before the year starts.  And set a bookmark for Hyde Park Progress to get info on cool festivals and events in HP that you won’t have time to attend.

The Point, as viewed from the MAPH Helicopter

1) Promontory Point: The 57th Street Beach can get a little crowded, so head over to the north side of “The Point” to check out MAPH Beach–unofficial meeting place of the unofficial “MAPH Swimming, Diving, and Sunbathing Team” (Season: May-June, tryouts in December). New Yorkers, get ready for a shock: you can swim in the water in Chicago.  The Lake will be at its warmest between mid-August and mid-September, so jump in before Core starts.

There will be a post on vegan options soon….

2) Cafe Valois: Chicago is a breakfast town, and Hyde Park has its very own breakfast gem in “Val-OYS” (Francophones beware, say Val-WAH and you’re likely to get some angry looks as you eat your delicious pancakes).  Keep the line moving: Valois is an old-school cafeteria-style restaurant.  A bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich with coffee will set you back no more than $4.00.  Bypass surgery charge covered by your University of Chicago Student Health Plan. Continue reading