From MAPH ’11 alum Biliana Grozdanova, co-founder of El Jinete Films:
After living all over the world, from Australia’s east coast to America’s west coast and pretty much everywhere in between, the Grozdanova sisters found themselves on the premises of the University of Chicago campus about to embark on their most creative venture to date. In 2012, Biliana and Marina Grozdanova founded El Jinete Films – a documentary production company with a mission to create inspiring documentaries featuring music from all around the globe. Their first film, however, would be a tale about rock n’ roll from their very own streets of Chicago… Currently in production, “The Last Kamikazis of Heavy Metal” is a documentary about the Chicago-based band Hessler, with which the Grozdanova sisters have been on two national tours, filming their every move. A first cut of the film premiered this spring at the Bare Bones International Film and Music Festival and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary. The final version of the film will be released in the national and international festival circuit in 2014.
Marina is a graduating senior a the college, majoring in International Studies. Biliana is a 2011 MAPH-er and wrote her thesis on rock n’ roll and the music documentary. This summer, the sisters return to Spain (their second home) to premiere their parallel project, “Ortigueira: Echoes at Land’s End,” a film about an international Celtic music festival on Galicia’s northern shores. Interestingly enough, what began as another crazy trip and film venture, the Ortigueira experience inspired Marina to write her B.A. thesis on this music festival, and it has been nominated for the Adlai Stevenson International Studies Thesis Prize.
In 1926, Scottish documentarian John Grierson coined the term “documentary” while studying at the University of Chicago… Who would have thought that this fact, along with the birth of Mick Jagger, 16mm film cameras, and two little girls in ex-communist Bulgaria, would lead to the epic apparition of El Jinete Films on the UChicago campus almost a century later? Indeed, the rock doc is a genre very much ALIVE and WELL, and the Grozdanova sisters plan to feed it for decades to come!
Check out the trailer for Kamikazes above, and be sure to look out for its premiere and the premiere of Ortigueira. Do you know of a MAPH alum doing exciting creative work? Let us know!
The people and projects of MAPH are profiled in two articles in the latest issue of Tableau, the Humanities Division of UChicago’s biyearly magazine.
“Come Together“ profiles Colloquium, MAPH’s new online journal that features exemplary, wide-ranging work by MAPH students, alumni and staff. This is not the first mention of Colloquium in other publications—if you’re itching for more meta on the magazine, check out this interview with its founders in The University of Chicago Magazine. The Tableau article has come out just in time for the journal’s second issue, which is set to launch on Friday! Don’t miss it!
“Publish and Flourish,” an article on UChicago Humanities alumni who work in the publishing industry, features three MAPH grads who are making it in publishing. Ellen Grafton (AM’11), Allison Wright (AM’08), and Joanna MacKenzie (AM’02) offer their practiced advice on how to get hired and succeed in book publishing. Ellen and Allison moved to New York to get into the business—Ellen is now Assistant Managing Editor of the children’s division at Simon and Schuster, and Allison is the US Dictionaries Editor at Oxford University Press. Joanna put down roots in Chicago, and she works as a literary agent at Browne and Miller Literary Associates—the same company where MAPH provides a paid summer internship for one current student every year.
Those are just two of the publications that are profiling MAPH alumni and projects. Know of other places MAPH alumni are popping up? Contact us!
Spring has returned to Chicago, and with it a bounty of new publications by MAPH alumni. Leila Wilson (AM ’03) and Gregory Lawless (AM ’04) each have a volume of poetry out in which the authors examine their complex relationships with the landscapes of their past and present. Read on for more information in the authors’ own words.
Leila Wilson, The Hundred Grasses (Milkweed Editions, 2013)
Leila on The Hundred Grasses:
My poems are rooted in the flatlands and lowlands: the Midwestern lawns, lakes, fields, and creeks of my childhood, and the Dutch farms, canals, and seascapes near my family’s home in Holland. Much of my poetry focuses on those instances when a space exerts itself beyond recognition, when it seems to estrange itself so that it may be renegotiated. For me this is a process of embedding my examination in the musicality of language and paying close attention to the breath of a line.
Leila will be reading from The Hundred Grasses at the Seminary CoOp on 5/21, and at the Chicago Cultural Center on 5/23. More information about her upcoming readings is available at the publisher’s website.
Greg’s one-sentence synopsis of his newest volume of poetry is, “Voyeuristic pastoralist suffers ecopoetical ravings in Ambivalence, PA.”
In an interview on his blog, Greg goes on to write:
…Foreclosure compares to any book of poetry that hovers nervously in the vicinity of the fraught pastoral, simultaneously wary of and lured by it. Many contemporary pastoral poems regard themselves as anti-pastorals, or post-pastorals—they imagine that the pastoral is impossible because it’s terminally problematic, and, thus, they fret in the wake of that “fact.” The poems in Foreclosure fret differently, I guess—not by abandoning convention or reference altogether, but by manifesting what I call critical ambivalence toward them—at times embracing, and at times rejecting these things, as the poems demand. But ultimately this is a book born of familiarity with a place.
You can purchase Foreclosure from the publisher’s website.
If you know of other recent publications by MAPH graduates that you think should be profiled, email us!
We know it might seem like we’ve been withholding information about applying to PhD programs. For a little while, that was indeed the case. There are certain ways in which MAPH needs to be done for MAPH’s sake, and it’s important to explore other career options outside of “THE ACADEMY.” But by now, many of you are still probably on the PhD bandwagon (or at least very seriously considering hitching a ride) and the time to start thinking about your next steps is now. So, throughout the rest of the quarter, we have a series of PhD application and academic professionalization events that we think you should go to. (Oh, and read this article – it’s distressing and refreshing all at the same time, and does a good job of outlining the types of questions you want to ask yourself as you weigh this decision.)
“How to Give a Talk” Panel: Friday, May 3rd, 2:00 – 3:30 in Classics 110
This promises to be an extremely valuable event with some indispensable advice from your friendly neighborhood preceptors. Especially if you are planning on presenting at the MAPH Thesis Works-in-Progress event, you should definitely attend this event. Some topics to be discussed: Knowing Your Audience, Structuring a Talk, Presenting with A/V Components and Fielding Q&As. Actually talking about your work is a lot different from writing about your work, and this event aims to help you think about those differences. Come prepared with questions!
MAPH Thesis Works-in-Progress: Friday, May 10th, various times and locations
Once we’ve received applications from everyone, we will finalize the schedule for this event and let you all know via e-mail. (Check your email!) This is a great opportunity to try your hand at some of the skills discussed at the “How to Give a Talk” panel. Practice presenting your work to an audience (presumably) previously uninformed about your topic. (Alliteration!) This is a great way to get some low-stress experience in the presentation arena. Even if you decide not to present, come out and support your friends and their work. This event epitomizes what MAPH is all about, and it’s one of the most exciting and well-attended events of the year. Check out the previous e-mail for application guidelines. Those are due to Chrissy by May 7th at 12:00 Noon. The application itself is also a great excuse to practice abstract-writing.
Faculty Panel – Applying to PhD Programs: Friday, May 31st: 2:00-3:30 in Classics 110
You want the inside scoop? We’ve got the inside scoop. Faculty panelists from various departments in the Humanities Division will be on hand to speak about different aspects of the PhD application process (Statements of Purpose, What PhD Admissions committees might be looking for, etc. etc.) and answer questions. Yes, we are intentionally creating an air of mystique around this event. You’ll just have to come and find out for yourselves. Be prepared for information that is various combinations of useful, hopeful, traumatic, and horrifying.
COME TALK TO YOUR MENTORS: All day, erryday in MAPHCentral
Bill and Chrissy just went through the PhD application process (successfully) this past year, and have plenty of thoughts on how to compile an application to doctoral programs – and how not to lose your mind whilst doing so. Or talk to Ian about the grim sense of self-satisfaction he must have had whilst watching his colleagues go through this process. Come pick our brains. TAKE US FOR A WALK IN THE SUNSHINE. WE LIKE TO FROLIC, TOO, YOU KNOW.
Next Tuesday we will be holding an Information Session for Externships at 12pm in Classics 110. It will only be 30 minutes and packed with valuable information, so you should definitely attend if at all possible!
In the hopes of getting you interested, here are 7 great reasons I just came up with to apply for externships this summer:1. It’s easy.
You’re already busy preparing resumes for internships, the mentorship and/or other jobs after you graduate; it should be relatively easy to recycle some of those materials into another application or three. The externship applications should be a breeze compared to the others on your plates right now. Unlike the other applications, however, this one is through the Career Advancement website—more details will be available at the info session on Tuesday.2. You want to get out of town.
Maybe you’re already planning on leaving Chicago when the program is up, or maybe you just want to get out for a weekend. Externships are available from Omaha, Nebraska to New York—from Denver, Colorado to Hong Kong! What’s more, there is some funding available to help students cover travel costs for externships outside of Chicagoland. Make sure to ask Sara Bosworth about it at the info session!3. You want to try something new without any risk.
There are a wide array of externships available in a variety of fields, some of which you might have found vaguely interesting but never seriously considered. Try a day with Scrappers Film Group, the Chicago group that made one of Roger Ebert’s Top 10 Documentaries of 2010. Or with the Exceptional Children’s Foundation who work with developmentally disabled children. If you want to take a break from humanities, try a few days with people and businesses in medicine, science & technology, government or the financial sector.4. You’ve been meaning to go to ________ anyway.
There are externships available at some amazing cultural institutions in Chicago. The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Museum of Science & Industry, The Art Institute and the Hyde Park Art Center all offer externships. So if you haven’t had a chance to get to these in your MAPH year, now is the perfect time to see the sights while learning about potentially working there!5. You want to make connections but hate networking events.
Everyone hates networking. Standing awkwardly in at the corner of a conversation that you aren’t actively participating in, smiling and trying to look hirable while quietly and nervously sipping barely tolerable wine? Yeah. The externships are a free and easy way to get tons of one-on-one time with alumni in fascinating careers at their places of work. You don’t have to pretend small-talk over cheese; just go with lots of questions and end up with valuable contacts.6. You are tired of talking to us about it.
This could be a great way to get advice about life after MAPH from alumni who, I don’t know, don’t still work at MAPH. Not to knock myself and the other staff, but we only have so much insight (a LOT, but not an infinite amount) to give on how you can instrumentalize your degree. This is a great, low-stress way to hear about the logistical possibilities of different career trajectories. Plus, there’s the added bonus of getting us off your freaking back about it!7. You will be out of school in 8 weeks.
Remember what I said about getting us off your back? I know you’re tired of hearing about this by now, and you might feel swamped with thesis and coursework and everything else, but I am urging you to do everything you possibly can starting now to get ready for next year. I promise you will feel so much better if you have an externship or two lined up for the summer. They aren’t jobs, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction—and a heck of a lot easier to get!
If this post has done anything to pique your interest, come by the office. We have info sheets detailing some of the available externships as well as information on applying. And of course, be sure to come to Classics 110 next Tuesday for the info session. See you there!
What is Colloquium?
The short answer? It’s MAPH’s online magazine of awesome stuff.
The longer answer? Well, that takes a bit of explaining…
I remember looking around Social Sciences 122, the grand room that marked my first weeks of lecture* at University of Chicago. I swooned at the elaborate wood-paneled walls, the layered chalkboards sliding up and down, the archaic light fixtures. I remember Professor Wray reciting the Big Names who had lectured in SS122, from Hannah Arendt to Slavoj Žižek. I looked around at a room full of strangers, and I wondered if there was an Arendt or a Žižek among us. Toward the end of my MAPH year, I knew the answer to that question….
*also called Colloquium, leading to frequent casual confusion
The answer wasn’t about who was the smartest talker or the best writer or the deepest thinker. It wasn’t about who was going to grow up and get famous. It wasn’t about Arendt and it definitely wasn’t about Žižek. The answer had to do with getting together, building ideas with others, and being part of a conversation that we cared about.
At the University of Chicago and in MAPH in particular, we become part of this community of humanists, world-changers, and fierce question-askers. We chase the ineffable and, in one form or another, we chronicle that pursuit. Those chronicles are how we talk together when we can’t talk together. When we founded Colloquium last year, it was to give a home to these chronicles-as-conversations.
Colloquium is run entirely by MAPH students and alumni. We launched our first issue in October 2012, and we’re building our spring issue now, which will launch in late April. It’s amazing. Issue 2.1 has Bauhaus, the Italian avant-garde, rebels and militants, sitars and soundscapes, three poets, short fiction, a cat called Mouloud, and a not-inconsiderable-amount of spectroscopy. And, dare I say it, even more.
Big things are coming from Colloquium. Issues 2.2 and 2.3 are on the drawing board already, and soon we’ll be launching some (still very top-secret) new features. We hope you’ll join us as readers and contributors in our little corner of the human conversation.
[SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION]
Some people ask us: why do you use the “Q” as your logo?
The answer is simple: because it is the most bad-ass of all the letters.
In town for Campus Days with time to fill? Don’t trust Yelp (We totally get it.) to guide you to a good meal and tasty beverages? Never fear. We in the MAPH office spend a lot of time in Hyde Park and we have plenty of suggestions (read: ironclad opinions) for where to go and what to do, whether you are on campus or roaming around the neighborhood. This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good one.
First things first, just wander around. The campus is rarely prettier than it is in the spring; if the weather is good, a leisurely stroll through the arches and across the quads really can’t be beat. If walking around aimlessly is not your thing, or if you have exhausted your aimless walking possibilities and you want a specific destination, we are partial to the Oriental Institute. The collection is fantastic (and really, really old), the building is beautiful, and admission is free (although the museum suggests a donation).
Also worth checking out is the Mansueto Library,a giant glass and steel ellipsoid on 57th Street that contains fancy robots that brings you books by request from deep inside the earth. It’s really cool.
Go to the lake. More specifically, go to Promontory Point. (It’s a short walk from campus and well worth it.) Or go to the DuSable Museum. Or browse in one of the excellent bookstores that Hyde Park is home to: Powell’s, tons of used books at great prices (1501 E 57th St, Chicago, IL); 57th St Books, a great general interest bookstore in which to wile away the hours (1301 E 57th St Chicago, IL 60637); The Seminary Co-op, one of the best books stores in the whole wide world (5751 South Woodlawn Avenue).
Z&H (1323 E. 57th St) has tasty, tasty sandwiches and good coffee. Bonjour Bakery (1550 East Hyde Park Blvd) makes a mean croque monsieur and really good croissants. Rajun Cajun (1459 E. 53rd St) Despite its misleading name, this place has tasty Indian food. Oh, the samosas! Valois (1518 E. 53rd St) is a classic cafeteria and a Hyde Park institution.
Robust (63rd and Woodlawn), The Sip (5301 S Hyde Park Blvd), the aforementioned Z&H, and Café 57 (1520 E. 57th St) all serve pretty good coffee (Z&H is the best, in our opinion.)
There are a couple of good bars in Hyde Park (they are dive-y in a pleasant way). The Cove (1750 E 55th St) has a fun jukebox and darts and foosball. Jimmy’s (Woodlawn Tap) (1172 E 55th St) is just a few blocks from campus and has cheap burgers and fries. It’s a classic college-town bar.
If you want still more suggestions, just email us. We will be happy to point you in the best direction.
As I’m sure many of our current Hyde Park denizens are aware, 53rd Street has been undergoing drastic and exciting renovations! Here are some highlights from the changes that will happen, and in some cases have already happened, on 53rd Street.
The new Harper Court on 53rd will be the location of the first new hotel in Hyde Park in over 50 years. The Hyatt Place Hotel will open up this fall, along with an LA Fitness and a Chipotle in the same building. The Hyatt will be a great option for visiting friends and family who you may not feel like hosting on your couch and/or floor for the weekend. Plus, we hear they will be offering discounted rates for UChicago customers! You can read about the Harper Court project here.
The new Harper Theater opened up at 53rd and Harper earlier this year on January 18th. This theater shows some art films, local cinema and documentaries, but also generally shows newer releases than Doc Films. So it should be a good alternative when you want to catch the latest releases but don’t want to hike all the way downtown to see them at one of the massive AMC Theaters. Student tickets are a cheap $7 ($8 otherwise for adults, and $6 matinee!), and the theater boasts a cute cafe with Medici-imported croissants and delicious Metropolis coffee. It’s also across the street from Kilwins, a delicious ice cream shop and another recent addition to the 53rd Street Corridor.
Current students might have noticed the new Akira clothing store on 53rd. In that same building, the famous Longman & Eagle will be opening up a second restaurant. Longman & Eagle is originally from Logan Square (my hood!) and they are known for their upscale American cuisine and tasty, tasty brunch. That same building will house a yoga studio for Hyde Park residents, as well as a new live music venue!
This post is just a taste of some of the exciting changes coming to the 53rd Street Corridor. For more information, please check out the UChicago-run 53rd Street blog, which will be providing updates on the street’s progress throughout the coming year.
You know how we have been telling you all since Colloquium to use this year to think about your professional life, as well as your academic life? Well, this time we really mean it. Now that the bulk of Winter Quarter is behind you, it is time to seriously consider—and more than consider, actually take action on—your post-MAPH plans. You will hear a lot of moaning and groaning from us over the next few months begging and pleading with you to come talk to us about resumes, cover letters and all other things “job-application-y.” These are all things that you should do. And while a great burden will befall you come June 15th, MAPH tries to alleviate some of this stress by offering paid (yes, you read that right: PAID) summer internships.
Every summer, MAPH partners with some of the most respected humanities-driven organizations in the city of Chicago and provides summer internship opportunities to a select number of MAPH graduates. (Yes, soon you will be graduates, and not students!) These internships provide our students with invaluably applicable professional experience, while also giving them the opportunity to spend their summer in the great (and yes, it does get warm!) city of Chicago. Oh, and did we mention that these opportunities are paid?
In this very special edition of MAPHtastic, we will be giving you as much information as humanly (and technologically) possible about these various opportunities. Click through the following links to learn more about the internship opportunities that interest you most. And, as always, please let us know if there’s anything else that you would like to know about them!
Browne and Miller is Chicago’s only independent, full-service literary agency. There is lots of great information on their website, and also on last year’s MAPHtastic post for you to peruse. Some great things for you to know from the get-go: MAPH Alum and former Browne and Miller Intern, Anna Jarzab (’07) published her first novel, All Unquiet Things with the agency. Additionally, last year’s intern, Jonathan Baker (’12) leveraged his experience at Browne and Miller to find a job in publishing in New York City.
The Center for Civic Reflection is committed to engaging people in productive conversations about issues that impact their communities and work in the world. The center facilitates these discussions by producing readings, images and videos – all tools that they use to lead dialogues in workplaces, communities and public spaces. The MAPH intern is responsible for assisting with the Center’s website rehabilitation, developing content, using social networking tools, and working with participants through facilitation training. This internship is great for students wishing to flex their writing muscles in a not-strictly-academic context.
This internship is with the museum’s Curatorial Affairs Department and is a great opportunity for anyone seeking a career in curation. Located in the beautiful Lincoln Park, the Chicago History Museum is one of those city institutions that has major appeal. The curatorial intern helps the team with project planning, audience research, collections research and content research and development. One of the most exciting parts of this internship is that no two MAPHers ever have the same experience, since their exhibitions are constantly changing. This summer, their featured exhibit is called Shalom, Chicago - the museum’s first ever exhibit on the history of Jewish Chicago. You can check out the rest of their current exhibits here.
Also be sure to check out Deborah Blumenthal’s (’11) reflection on the internship from a few summers ago. Although Deborah studied Theatre during her MAPH year, and presently continues to work with various theaters around the city of Chicago, this proved to be an invaluable experience for her. Just goes to show that sometimes you have to be a little creative to see how some opportunities may be be applicable to your career path!
Each summer, the Chicago Humanities Festival provides affordable public programming in the humanities. Committed to fostering community engagement, the Festival features content from some of the most innovative humanities scholars and contributors from around the country. The programming intern is responsible for developing web and media content, aiding in coordination of education events and project management. Last year’s CHF MAPH intern, Marlee Prutton (’12), has continued to work part-time for the organization since the completion of her internship.
Do you like books? (If not, then we may need to have another conversation in which we re-evaluate this whole grad-school thing.) The MAPH internship at the Newberry is a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in pursuing archival work, and it is such an oh-so-lovely place to work. As an intern at the Newberry, you will be responsible for handling lots of materials in their collection, and while learn a lot about archival practices. Colloquium’s own Senior Editor, Liz John (’12) held the internship last year, and has nothing but good things to say about the experience. Emma Martin (’11) had the internship the year before and still works there—she just got a promotion, in fact! And hey, if you don’t find a career at the Newberry, you might at least find a wedding venue.
Hone your writing chops with MAPH’s summer internship at Newcity, one of Chicago’s leading cultural weekly magazines and websites. Learn to keep up in a fast-paced editorial environment, where deadlines are actually deadlines. Newcity hosts MAPH’s only “virtual” internship – where your work will mostly be conducted independently, via the interwebs (what a wonderful exercise in self-accountability!) So yeah, MAPH could potentially pay you to hang out in your pajamas all summer long. Or you could also play the role of the tortured freelancer, by exploring some of Chicago’s free wi-fi providing coffee shops! (With that fat MAPH check in your wallet, you could buy a lot of lattes.) This is the second year that Newcity is hosting a MAPH intern, but you can check out testimonials from some of their other past interns here.
The Odyssey Project is one of those immensely cool Chicago organizations that helps MAPH students channel their interest in the Humanities into impactful, inspiring and real-world-applicable work. The Project is a college-level course in philosophy, literature, art history, and history for men and women living at or below 150% of the poverty level, and for which they may earn 6 units of college credit. Founded on the premise that a liberal education should empower people and that engagement with the humanities can provide people with resources to better their lives, the Odyssey Project provides free college-level education to dozens of students per year.
MAPH’s own Hilary Strang has instructed courses with the Odyssey Project for a few years now, and she would be happy to answer any questions that you may have about the internship, or about the Project in general. Lastly, be sure to check out this post on afterMAPH by Anna Burch (’12) and Marybeth Southard (’12), who completed the internship through MAPH last summer.
Located in our own beautiful Hyde Park, MAPH’s internship at the Smart Museum is the perfect opportunity for someone planning to pursue career opportunities in the arts or public policy sector. As an intern at the Smart, you will be responsible for engaging with and building new audiences, developing projects for digital publication and community outreach. This summer, the MAPH intern will be working on programming for the Fall 2013 exhibition and for the Museum’s monthly social hour series, At the Threshold. You can check out the museum’s current exhibitions here. Even though I’m sure that lots of our Art Historians will be jumping at this internship, we would actually encourage anyone who is interested in marketing, communications, or the non-profit sector to apply for this one. If you’re interested, you should check out MAPH alum and former Smart Museum intern Diego Arispe-Bazan’s (’11) piece on his time at the Smart here.
And that’s it for now! We’ll be having an Internship Kickoff event in the first week of Spring quarter as well, so come with all your questions.
Wrapping up our series of AWP posts is this one from Jessi Haley.
Okay, I thought, maybe. Maybe that is how you do music festivals. With a plan. I, on the other hand, tend to show up with a vague idea of what is going on when and wait for people and/or circumstances to guide me to the good stuff.
But I took her advice; I pretended like I was at a music festival. I thumbed through the heavy directory, letting my eyes settle on random pages so that the titles of events jumped out at me haphazardly. I listened to the advice of my fellow MAPH people and sometimes followed them places. I skipped readings and panels that were probably informative or even enlightening. On Saturday afternoon, I ran over to Charlestown to spend an hour nervously holding my cousin Vicky’s fragile, squirming newborn when I could have been, I don’t know, acquiring more half-priced copies of Tin House?
However, even without a coherent plan, I got a lot out of my first time at AWP. I practiced talking to people: about MAPH, about submitting to journals, about how to practice talking to people. I made eye contact with Tea Obreht more than once and definitely soaked up some of her powers as a result. I even learned how to respond to the question “Are you a writer?” without choking and violently tugging at my hair. (Okay, that’s a lie. I will always hate answering that question.) And, thanks to the great directory-reading abilities of my MAPH friends, I sat in on relevant and informative panels, including one dedicated to writing in the first person plural, as I am doing in my thesis. The organizers of that panel also run a reading series in Harlem that explores this kind of narration, and Justin Torres, one of the authors I am reading for my critical component, participated in the talk. Pretty convenient. At the end, one of the organizers agreed to correspond with me about my project and Torres told me that he “couldn’t wait to see it,” which was sweet and encouraging if not realistic.
It turns out that the people of AWP are a predictably eccentric bunch who scurry around decked out in variations on the “writer” outfit: tweed, glasses, wrinkled button-ups. The pinging of iPhones and the repetition of phrases like “my MFA” and “your Submittable account” punctuate their conversations. Some attendees stare directly into your eyes for too long while they tell you about their important and potentially imaginary screenplay; others never let their gaze leave the table as they scan it for free books. Certain individuals exhibit an unusual drive to collect as many buttons and flyers as possible.* Overall though, despite the tendency of many to bemoan the very premise of a writer’s conference, there was an undeniable energy racing through the windowless rooms of Hynes Convention Center this past weekend. The fact is that it is exciting to admit that you want to turn something that you love into some kind of career. Yeah, it is scary, and at times you feel like a fraud, but when you are milling around a giant space with tons of other people who share your aspirations, and some of them have even realized them, it is possible to feel a little free, a little confident. You at least know that you are in good company.
The conference ended as it should have—with a dance party. Now, two days later, my legs hurt, I have a mysterious bruise on my collarbone, and I may or may not have dozed off and briefly let my head rest of the shoulder of a university press’ acquisitions editor on the plane ride home. Nevertheless, I am pretty sure the whole thing turned out way better than I could have planned.
*Including some poor, bored nine-year-old girl who got dragged there and stuck wearing a nametag that read “Awesome Kid” and a man who was apparently searching for our Colloquium buttons all over the book fair (“People have been talking about these ‘Q’ buttons”)…
- Jessi Haley (MAPH ’13) has a BA in History from Skidmore College, some professional experience making binders and sandwiches, and is now working on a short story collection for her MAPH thesis.
Continuing our series of AWP posts this one from Ariana Nash (MAPH ’13)
My first AWP, I imagined that someone would ask to read my work, I would meet my future publisher, and maybe there would even be a parade with confetti announcing my presence to the writing world. Or, I didn’t so much imagine this scenario, as find myself surprised when it didn’t happen. Instead, I had a few awkward conversations, bought too many journals I was never going to read, and felt a kind of agony of irrelevance — a stark reminder that I capable of intense egoism and insecurity.
My second AWP, I did a little better. I took home a few journals that helped me find new places to send my work — having not backed away awkwardly from tables or hastily grabbed what someone tried to sell me, but instead stood at their tables reading long enough to decide I liked their journals. I managed to learn a little about book contests, since I was finishing my first manuscript. I also met an editor or two from journals that had published my work. Of course, not to paint too rosy a picture, one editor told me, when I realized I had “introduced myself” without giving my name and belatedly told him who I was, that it didn’t really matter since he wasn’t going to remember my name in a few months anyway.
This AWP, I learned less, since I was more familiar with the presses and book contests, but I still picked up a few new ideas about where I could submit. I put my first book in the hands of two people who might review it, and my editor sold copies of my book (mostly to people who know me), and I sold copies of my book (also mostly to people who know me). I organized and gave a reading. I spent a lot of time with friends from my MFA and from my stay at the MacDowell Colony, and met a lot of friends of friends with whom I drank, talked about writing, and bemoaned how exhausting and overwhelming the conference is.
Quickly, AWP is getting smaller for me, even as it grows in attendees. My expectation are getting lower, even as the real benefits are increasing. And more than any “professional development,” those moments of community-building (i.e. the consumption of alcohol) are more important and hearteningly, less part of the industrial complex of writing. By now, I firmly understand that AWP is largely the commercial side of my artistic practice, and that, as for most writers, scrappily fighting their way for a small amount of recognition, it is a practically expedient side. The key, I think, is viewing AWP as a practice scrimmage with a process we’ll have to undergo for the rest of our lives: how to deal with publishing as an industry, while maintaining our sense of artistic urgency and integrity.
- Ariana Nadia Nash (MAPH ’13) is the author of Instructions for Preparing Your Skin, winner of the 2011 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. She is a current MAPH student and an alum of the MFA program at University of North Carolina Wilmington.
A dispatch on the Boston AWP Conference from Charlie Puckett (MAPH ’13 ) Creative Writing Option
The 2013 AWP Conference & Book Fair is held at John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in the Back Bay streets of Boston. Once most people finish reading the center’s name, they take a nap and then go inside. In the 193,000 sq. ft. building there are 8 billion people and they have all written a book or a poem or frequently have creative ideas. These people walk around many tables that also have books and magazines and ideas on stickers and people who have jobs sit behind these tables and say many nice things to those who do not. UChicago’s MAPH program has a table at Booth 2811 on the second floor and there are very good looking people behind it, which is necessary because there are lines to meet them and less attractive people might not be able to manage the task as well.
On Thursday night at 6:30, the 2013 Keynote Presentation, a conversation between Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott moderated by Rosanna Warren, celebrated the successful opening day of AWP Boston. Warren declared the conversation a draw on the account that no one could understand their accents, though most favored Heaney as the winner due to his ability to make speech sound like a fawn lapping water from a brook in solstice moonlight. Everyone agreed, however, that it’s a good thing both Laureates use the medium of writing for their art and that Walcott had a mustache but Heaney did not. On Friday afternoon, Don DeLillo gave a reading from his work and participated in a conversation with himself because everyone in the audience was very busy whispering: “It’s Don DeLillo, It’s Don DeLillo.”
When not looking at famous people’s faces making speeches, AWP attendees have the opportunity to browse hundreds of booths and tables that support and contribute to the international community of writers and believers. The conference is a testament to the diversity* of thinkers dedicated to laboring for an art. Most of the art here will remain art that no one ever reads and history will phase over the canon with the sound of wind in a maritime painting. But the beautiful thing is that here every person is a big deal to at least one other person in the world. That is why someone published their work, because one person believed more people should know how they see the world. AWP is an Additional-Mother Depot™ where people come to have just one, if only one other person who thinks what they did is special. And it is remarkable.
*AWP would like to remind all those who were unable to attend this year that it encourages diversity and the participation of individuals in its activities regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, opinion towards modernism, socioeconomic status, propensity to use the word ‘vulgar’ before nouns with productive suffixes, age, disability, or religious or political belief. Someone suggested that this would be a very good policy for the American government to practice and another person made a note to make sure to mention it to Congress after the conference was over.
“Charlie Puckett is fervently enjoying his time at AWP Boston with special friends from MAPH.”
Update from AWP: MAPHer Ariana Nash signing her book of poetry, Instructions for Preparing your Skin. Ariana’s book was published in 2011 by Anhinga Press, and won the Philip Levine Prize for poetry. You can check out her book’s webpage here, where they’ve posted a few samples of her poetry. We also have a short video from Ariana’s signing: see it below!
Continuing from the last post, this year MAPH was able to send our creative writing students to the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Boston, MA. In return, we’ve asked them to write us each a short piece on their experience at AWP.
Today’s comes from Carina Schorske, a current student in the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities who is focusing on creative writing.
Writers love to hate AWP. I’ve heard one acclaimed poet refer to the conference as “loathsome,” another as “soul-sucking.” Several older writers advised me not to go: stay at home and write, they said. Lock the door.
But it is hard to trust Adam and Eve when they beg you not to eat the fruit. They seem so wise in their fallenness; they are like gods! And then the serpent slips a free plane ticket into your pocket.
Hynes Convention Center in downtown Boston has its own subway stop. The building is a block long and the ceilings are so high you can feel wind in your hair on the escalators. You can smell snow and vending machines, newspapers and deodorant. There’s a map for each floor, of course, but also a map for each room: rooms are divided into aisles and aisles into numbered squares.
Leonard Cohen has a song called Boogie Street. Boogie Street is the kind of place you go to break in your new ankle boots, try your first cigarette, and find your hustle. It’s crowded, crass, and commercial. It is, in short, the traffic jam of ordinary work and desire. But in his interviews, Leonard Cohen admits that it’s always Boogie Street: Boogie Street in the monastery, Boogie Street in Times Square. You don’t get away from it.
And indeed one of the glories of AWP is confronting all the scenes of desire you secret away from yourself at home. You see the young poet reach into her backpack for her stack of chapbooks, and you see her face when her thermos leaks and the fresh pages turn damp with tea. You see the schoolteacher arrive at the front of the line just before Derek Walcott is ushered away from the book-signing table by his handlers. You see Derek Walcott say, I’m tired. But more than any of these specific scenes you see at least ten thousand people confessing: I want to write. And I want you to read me.
Almost everyone is eager to cancel this confession. The costumes are elaborate and the displays of disinterest are dramatic. But there’s no use, the blood has been spilled. It’s a fool’s errand to try to get clean. Another poet of pop music comes to mind as I survey the crowd, as I survey my own crowded heartscape. In Live from the Underground, Big K.R.I.T. poses the right question for AWP:
Whachu mean you ain’t nasty / why the f*** you came?
This year, MAPH and the Graduate Student Administration got together to send our Creative Writing Option students to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in Boston from March 6-9th! The AWP conference is a major annual event in the writing world, regularly attended by upwards of 10,000 writers and writing enthusiasts. We have forced asked our attending MAPHers to write us a series of blog posts about their adventures there, which we will be uploading to the blog as they come in.
The first is from John Beisner, current MAPH student, pictured above representing the (Mid)Westside out East in Boston (that is, he’s on the left). His post on flying into Boston is after the cut. Oh, and after the impromptu mouth harp concert of course. Take it away, Charlie!
I’d have been excited to go to the 2013 AWP conference even if it were being held in DeKalb, IL. All the better that it’s in wonderful historic godawful conceited Boston.
I’ve never met anyone who has been to Boston and come away without an opinion. These opinions seem to vary widely, which puts Boston in the same league as New York and Los Angeles and an entirely different league than Chicago. In the former you must either love or hate, but in the latter you can feel free to do neither. Boston seems to do pretty well in its league: the majority of the opinions I’ve come across have been favorable, even enthusiastic. “It’s nice,” says the friend of a friend whose couch I’ll be sleeping on, “but you have to walk everywhere.” (I award points in advance, L.A. is so much the poorer). “Also, all the conferences come to us.” I’m inclined to call her out on the “us,” (she lived in Chicago until recently) but she’d probably just point out that not only is it nice that conferences come to Boston, but that conferences come to Boston because it’s nice. We shall see.
Myself, I’m from all the way Out West in California, which is so far away from Back East that we need an entirely different proposition for our cardinal direction. Most of what I know about Boston comes from movies. All of these movies are pretty rough, and so are the people in them. While I’ve come to love the warm midwestern friendliness that reaches even to the heart of Chicago, I expect such friendliness to be a sign of weakness and/or imbecility in Boston. I’m expecting a city both intellectual and anti, blue collar and blue blood, besotted with the spirit of Sam Adams and with spirits/Sam Adams, equally happy to debate, berate or celebrate. I will have to form an opinion soon because Boston demands it. It’s a significant place, whose culture and history overflows into grade-school textbooks all over the continent, and yet it still enough is left over to supply whole armies of violent sports fans. It has its own accent. It’s New England; it’s Old America. And not just Old; Ye Olde. Not just brick, but stone. In California we have only wood and stucco. I’m a sucker for this stuff.
Yet from the air, though, Boston is not like I expected. It wears the same winter wardrobe as Chicago—bleak grey and brown—and is forested with the same species of petrified winter trees. In Boston this forest looks thicker, the buildings sparser. Trees shrug up through the city and shiver along the surrounding hills. From the air, Boston looks widely but tenuously settled, as if the 400 years since the city’s founding have not been enough to dominate the land, as if the Last of the Mohicans might still be just over the next hill, in a two story colonial. The city seems to have grown into itself over time, walking in pace with history, thickening and entwining its roots with those of the ash grey hardwoods that follow the hills. No terraforming here; just actual topography. Chicago is a vast prairie-scape of brick and glass and steel, massed beside a gently curved, softly beached lake pool: A perfect place for a mid-continent supercity. From the air, though, Boston is so much different. We descend along the jagged coastline. I looks like it’s been fractured by the kick of a cold ocean. It’s smaller than I thought, and prettier. I’m excited.
The plane lands smoothly despite a strong headwind. The man driving the conveyor belt up to the belly of the plane sits erect, like Washington crossing the Delaware. I’m afraid I’m going to inflict my preconceptions on this city. I’m going to give it too much credit, not ask enough of it, miss it for what it is as I going around pointing at things and calling them venerable. The airport is no help. There are posters commemorating all of the movies upon which I’ve built my pre-conceptions: Goodwill Hunting, Mystic River, The Verdict, The Town, The Departed, and Paul Blart Mall Cop. The mayor comes on the speaker and with an excellent Boston accent reminds me to go see the historics. Then the governor pipes in, his smile audible as he assures us new arrivals that we would find the his locals to be among the most “thoughtful, open-minded, hardworking and dedicated people anywhere in the world.” I will rush to my own hard opinions, thank you. Like this one: Most of the men have goatees. And this one: It’s no DeKalb.
On April 7th and 8th, the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) will be holding Campus Days for newly admitted students. Our goal is to show you as much of MAPH as we possibly can in two action-packed days, to help you decide whether or not this program is right for you. Campus Days is not mandatory for admitted students, but we highly encourage it! If you will be able to make it this year, here is an idea of what you will have to look forward to, and some advice as to how to make the best of it.RSVP for Campus Days 2013 Here! BEFORE YOU COME:
MAPH reimburses up to $200 of travel expenses for prospective students attending Campus Days! So make sure you keep track of your receipts. Check this page for more information and to make sure your trip will be eligible.
If you’re coming in from out of town, you’ll obviously need to figure out where to stay. I recommend staying with a current MAPH student if possible; it’s a great way to get insider information on the program, and to experience the kind of life you might lead in Hyde Park. Contact us for more information about this, as our students will have limited space! Otherwise there are several great places to stay in Hyde Park and downtown. Check this page for more details to help plan your stay.WHILE YOU’RE HERE:
The first event (Sunday at 2:30pm) will be the preview of the second issue of Colloquium, MAPH’s new student-run journal. Colloquium showcases the critical and creative work of MAPH students and alumni in a snappy web publication. Check out the first issue now, and be sure to come by the preview event to hear about the work current students are doing, as well as get any information on how to submit work or serve on the editorial board during your MAPH year.
Following the preview is the official welcome for Campus Days at 4:30pm! Dean of Humanities Martha Roth, Director of MAPH David Wray, and Deputy Directors of MAPH Ben Callard and Hilary Strang will give a short talk about the program and an official welcome. We will then screen Jacques Tati’s 1967 film, Playtime, with a faculty panel on the film to follow on Monday morning.
After the film, there will be a current student panel at 6:00pm. Current students from diverse fields will be in attendance, ready to take any and all questions about life in MAPH. Then after an hour or so, everyone will walk over to the new Logan and Reva Center for the Arts for the MAPH Welcome Dinner around 7:00pm. Come enjoy delicious catered food and mingle with other prospectives, current MAPH students, faculty and staff!
Breakfast will be served buffet style in the Classics Building from 8:30-10:00am, for any early birds among you! Then at 10:00am, there will be a faculty panel on Playtime. It should be an insightful event, and an opportunity to hear from some of the faculty you may be interacting with throughout your year in MAPH—maybe even a future advisor! Specific panel members will be listed on the Campus Days Schedule as we know them.
After the faculty panel, we will hold a MAPH alumni panel at 11:15. The panel will consist of MAPH alumni from diverse fields such as cultural policy, journalism, education, museum and art curation, as well as current PhD students. They will provide their perspectives on the program as former students, and illustrate how their experiences here have translated to their respective careers and life trajectories.
Everyone will be going their own way from 12-4. Lunch is independent, but we will provide a handout upon your arrival that should help you figure out where to eat at any of Hyde Park’s delicious restaurants. How you spend the next few hours is entirely up to you. Options include sitting in on a class, attending faculty office hours, going on campus tours, participating in a creative writing-specific event, visiting departments and more! And if you are seeking travel reimbursement, don’t forget to square that with us during this time! Detailed information about participating in all of these options will be made available on your arrival to campus, and we will be updating the website as details come in, so check back often.
Finally, on Monday from 4-6 we will hold the MAPH Campus Days closing reception. We will have dinner with prospectives, current students, MAPH faculty and staff to bid you all farewell—but hopefully will see you soon again!
Well, that’s all the information I have for you now. I hope to see you there!
In Which I Share Some Secret Tips For Successful Navigation of the Library Now That You Will Need a Bunch of Books All the Time
At the peak of my MAPH workload last year, I had 82 library books piled in my study. They were carefully organized: there was That Pile Over There, The Books That Fell Down By The Closet, and The Books The Dog Kept Trying To Chew. I freely admit that there was no reason to have the volume of books I had. I just couldn’t get over the fact that I could get books on anything I was interested in. I had the might of the UChicago library system behind me.
But just as I did, you will inevitably run into one of these horrifying situations…
1) You want a book that is checked out of the library or 2) someone wants a book that you have. And then, because it is as simple as a click of the mouse, you do something terrible. Or worse, someone does it to you. You know what I’m talking about. Recall. There is nothing more painful in all the world than to see a book torn from the arms of its wailing reader. What kind of monster would wish such a thing on someone? Especially when there are services like UBorrow. It’s one thing to have the might of the UChicago library system. It’s another thing entirely to have that might brought to bear on your behalf by another DOZEN research libraries.
In the Recall Universe, feral bands of students fight bitterly with one another over limited resources, scrambling over the dead and fallen bodies of those who lost the books they needed.
In the UBorrow universe, everyone has the books they need. When multiple students need the same book, they each can have a copy. The sun shines all the time, and it only rains when you want it to. Adults can talk to animals, and everyone finds true love.
Note the following from a recent Library News story:
In the past year, approximately 2,300 University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff have borrowed more than 10,500 books through the UBorrow service. The popularity of the new service led to a 30 percent decrease in the number of items recalled from UChicago Library users…suggesting that many are choosing not to inconvenience UChicago borrowers when copies can be easily obtained through UBorrow.
In many cases, UBorrow provides a better option than recalling a checked out book or getting it through traditional interlibrary loan, as the book is likely to be received more quickly through UBorrow than through either of these services. As an added benefit, books obtained from UBorrow will not be recalled before their due dates, except under unusual circumstances, such as when a book is needed for course reserve at the lending library.
Which is to say, use UBorrow whenever possible. The book will get here quicker/as quickly, your peers won’t see you with the book they just had and start plotting their revenge, and you will alleviate some of your stress in an already stressful time.
Another of my most favorite library services is Scan & Deliver. Imagine this scenario: you’re in your apartment, looking through a bibliography. You find a citation you’re interested in, and you want to get your hands on a chapter of a certain book. You look in the library catalog, notice the book is at the Regenstein, but you just don’t feel like trekking over there. Using the Scan & Deliver service, you just tell the library what pages you want, and they scan them and send you a PDF. For free. I’m not even kidding. Then you have it forever, and you can write all over it and print it whenever you need it. It’s amazing.
Lastly, I want to mention Regenstein’s DVD collection. It’s incredible. You can check movies out and watch them at home. If you ever give yourself a movie-watching break and want access to a wider variety of films than Netflix or The Pirate Bay allows, check out the east wall of the second floor of the Reg. It’s a treasure trove of treasure. For extra film fun, check out the Film Studies Center, too.