For many MAPHers this is the most stressful time of the year. It can be hard to adjust to 3
non-core classes (3 midterms….3 finals….). It gets cold here. So, so cold. And your thesis changes from an abstract, amorphous, awesome-thing-I-will-do-in-the-future into a particular, bounded, mildly-good-and-full-of-potential thing-I-am-doing-right-now.
So we of MAPH office fame thought we should throw some advice your way. Which is to say, Mylo and Grover wanted to share the ideas they have been throwing around for their own theses (see below).
But first, the weather.The Weather
For those of you who grew up in Antarctica, you can ignore this part, I’m sure you know how to dress for cold weather. For those of you from anywhere else, this weather may be somewhat of a shock. Air temperature can and (probably) will dip below zero, and the wind chill gets down to -20 or worse.
How to deal with this? Layers.
Layers Layers Layers. Easy to do on top–shirt, sweatshirt, a nice jacket. Just that is 3 layers, and you can always add an extra shirt or sweater. Bottom half is harder, because we usually don’t think past: pants.
I ran into some challenging gender-norm language problems trying to identify the clothing we wear under our pants. I decided that for all humans, we can basically call them leggings. I grew up calling them long-johns, but they’re just leggings. AKA long underwear. AKA tights.
So on real cold days, I get up to 3 layers on my legs. Leggings, PJ PANTS YES PJ PANTS, and then normo pants. Some good warm socks, and a good pair of boots. Scarf and hat are necessary, but leave cheeks and forehead exposed (it may be because my hairline is retreating, but my forehead gets cold af). A balaclava or changing your hat/scarf positioning will help. Gloves that are long enough to tuck into your jacket sleeve.
OK that’s all I got for weather.Advisors
By the last Friday in January (27th) your signed advisor paperwork is due. That gives you TWO WEEKS to get someone to give you the green light. Feel free to come talk to the mentors or anyone in the MAPH office, we can help facilitate conversations, read email drafts, figure out backup advisors, etc.
Ask. You may have been meeting with your advisor hoping that they will come out and offer and save you the terrifying social ledge-approach of asking if they will advise you. Stop tergiversating. You’re an adult now. This isn’t prom. Faculty members know students need advisors, and they also know that they don’t have to commit to much. You will find that rejection is easier in practice than it is in your head, and it will feel so much better to have this issue settled than up in the air.
And if it doesn’t feel right? Trust your gut! Don’t be petrified of your advisor because your work won’t feel as good to you.
THE THESIS, SIS
Is writing your thesis going to be stressful? Sure. But it is eminently doable. 94 of you will produce one this year. 87 produced one last year. And so on. It is a challenging thing that you can do. It’s not Everest, there are not bodies of past MAPHers who you use for guidance.
Instead there are preceptors who will help you do this piece by piece. And (like all academic work) your writing is not you. The thesis is not you and does not represent you. You took MAPH core, you know “you” probably doesn’t even exist in the way you grew up thinking it exists. Trust me when I say that this project is not you. Just something you will be proud of.A final piece of advice on writing the thesis comes from the office dogs, Grover and Mylo.
Be a Grover.
When Grover gets stepped on, his reaction is to leap up, growl and begin attacking whoever stepped on him.
Don’t be a Mylo.
When Mylo gets stepped on, his reaction is to scream and pee. He then apologizes to whoever stepped on him.
When it comes to your thesis, be a Grover.
- Class Struggles and Begging: A Marxist Perspective on Sitting Pretty
- Creature Comforts: Sleeping, Eating and Existentialism
- Butt Sniffing: A Memoir
- One Trick Doggos: Performance and Degradation
- Waiting at the Door Tomorrow: Wittgenstein’s Canine Investigation
- Humping: Canine Heteronormativity Under Modernity
- The Stick and The Carrot: An Analysis of “Good Boy”
- The Unchanging View: Sled Dogs Under Capital
- The Rise of Speciesism in Post-Leash America
- Smells of Home: A Poem Cycle
- Treats: A Conversation between Subjugation and Pleasure
Do you have to work the ENTIRE break? Of course not. Do a good amount of research, but take some time to rest, relax, and recharge. And reduce and reuse and recycle of course. All the re-‘s
We of the MAPH office decided we would put together a little guide to the beautiful winter wonderland that is Chicago. Sorry, scratch that….I meant to say the Grey wasteland that is Chicago.
Here are some things to do around the city. If you will be in town, do as much as you can during the break. If you will not be in town, maybe after break you can find some time to live as a human. Whenever possible we are including FREE events, although there is lots of stuff that’s not free.Drag Queen Story Time
Women and Children First is welcoming Chicago’s greatest Queens, Muffy Fishbasket, Coco Sho-Nell, and Ashley Morgan, as they read us their favorite holiday-themed picture books like How the Grinch Stole Christmas! To learn more about why Story Time with Drag Queens is changing lives, read THIS. And if you’re interested in the event click HERE
When: Nov. 20 to Dec. 24
Where: Daley Plaza, between Washington, Clark and Dearborn streets
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
What It’s About: Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, the Chicago Christkindlmarket celebrates German and European tradition with food, drink and gifts. That means hot mulled wine and cheap kitchy gifts for your family.
If you haven’t spent much time downtown, this is a great place to hang out a bit. Free to walk around, slightly expensive if you have a drink or two.
Lincoln Park Zoo’s Zoolights
If you haven’t been to Lincoln Park Zoo, you should totally go. Make a day out of it if you don’t have a car, because it takes a while to get to on public transit
Get there before dark to see the animals, then hang out to see the lights and craziness. There are TONS of people, so, you know…..who’s REALLY in the zoo, you know?
Its the animals. They are in the zoo.
Like I said, kind of a madhouse. They have spiked hot chocolate, which both helps with the crowds and makes the crowds worse.New Year’s Eve
Chicago’s largest outdoor celebration returns for a second year, still sporting its rather unfortunate name (we refuse to call our city Chi-Town). As the final approach of midnight nears, a gigantic star will ascend the west tower of the Hyatt Regency until it reaches the top and a fireworks display will light up the riverfront. Tickets to the event are free, with viewing areas on each bank of the Chicago River, but you’ll need to register to secure your spot. If you want to watch from the comfort of your couch, the whole event will be broadcast live on NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago. Last year this was…..very disappointing to watch on tv. I mean, great, if you’re into watching lonely white people trying to dance and hook up, but overall not my thing. Still, better than watching a previously recorded video of the ball dropping in NY.Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating
Millennium Park is good all year round, but what’s really cool is that Maggie Daley Park (next door) has a skating ribbon. Yes, not a rink, a ribbon. It’s pretty and it’s icy and you should go glide around on it.
Next door at Millenium park there is caroling on December 9 and 16 from 6-7pm in front of the bean (AKA cloudgate). Warm up with some hot chocolate and carols after you show off on the ribbon.
(If traveling downtown is not your thing, there’s also ice skating on the midway. It’s a rink. It’s good, if you’re into that kind of thing.)
Christmas Trees at the MSI
There’s Christmas trees at the MSI. They’re pretty and stuff. That’s basically it.
(it’s worth noting in general that if you ever want a free pass to a museum, get yourself a Chicago Library Card. Libraries have a set of free museum passes, first-come, first-serve. You just have to show up in the morning and get one.)Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus
Home for the Holidivas looks pretty much amazing. You can get tickets here. These guys aren’t messing around. Get friggin’ festive already.Nutcrackin’
So there is a classic nutcracker ballet at the Joffery ballet. I used to go here as a kid but I was too scared of it so we stopped.
There is ALSO a dark, reasonably crazy, ballet-free version of the Nutcracker going up at the House Theatre of Chicago. It’s original, and seems like it will be awesome. (My guess is that if child-brent had trouble with the original, this one would definitely cause some late nights alone in the dark being scared.)
OK that’s all for now. I have two very important things to share with you though.
(1) There is a great tool for finding answers to questions about your thesis. I recommend a WEEGER board:
(2) If you just need to relax, do what your mentors did today–watch a little bob ross. T had a straight-up spiritual experience today watching this.
As always, shoot us an email if there’s anything we can do for you. It’s what we’re here for.
Winter love from MAPH
Hey Party People,
As the end of the quarter looms, some MAPHers have been starting to think about what they should be doing about their thesis…..
Slow it down, everyone. Relax.
Do you need to start writing your thesis now? No.
Are there some constructive thesis-y things you can do to prepare? Yes.Finding an Advisor
By this time maybe you have an idea of who you would like to work with. You won’t need to make it official until the end of January, but there are some steps you could take before the end of the quarter.
Have you gone to some office hours with them? It doesn’t necessarily matter if you are in a class with them right now, you could schedule some time and talk about how you’ve been wondering about something (specific) they did/wrote about. Go with specific questions. Don’t mention your thesis. Establish a relationship.
If you have already established a relationship, now could be a good time to bring up the fact that you are really interested in this subject (and something specific the faculty member has done) and are thinking about possibly working on this subject next quarter when you begin writing your MA thesis. See if that doesn’t draw out an offer from the faculty member. If not, just be a little awkward and ask….
“I know you’re busy next quarter…do you have any extra time to advise my thesis work?”
“Would it be possible for you to advise my thesis work? I would really appreciate it.”
“I would love to talk more about this with you, maybe you could help me by advising my thesis next quarter”
Use your best judgement, and don’t be afraid to wait until winter quarter to actually ask. When in doubt, talk to the MAPH staff
Don’t stake your emotional sanity on whether one rando says yes about something. They might have already agreed to advise too many folks, they may be on sabbatical next quarter, they might not be that interested in your awesome subject. Someone will advise you.
Out of 87 MAPHers last year, 87 MAPHers found advisors.Research
Over break you will be required to put together a tentative bibliography. Remember, with your work you are entering a conversation. You are joining a discourse community, and your work will take meaning from that discourse. Will you be responding to a commonly-held belief in your field? Will you be arguing that someone does not go far enough in their explanations? That some important facet of a text is being ignored? In order to join the conversation, you have to have a sense of what people are talking about.
Don’t freak out about this–you are not yet a professional academic. You don’t need to know everything that anyone has ever said about your subject. If you were working on your dissertation, you would need to have a much more comprehensive approach to this lit review, but for now, you just need to build a little bit of a discourse.
N.B–you are building the conversation. This is a construction. The idea is not that you accurately record everything that’s happening in the conversation around your subject. The idea is that you construct a part of that conversation that you can use to springboard into your own argument. Find something people believe, illustrate that to your reader, then tell the reader why that belief is wrong. Tell ’em what they should believe.
OK so how is I do the research? Check out this helpful video guide!
(In our heads that was more helpful. But JSTOR is definitely a good place to begin)
Seek out academic journals in your field. This is your new jam.
This is important! If you are doing a philosophy thesis and you are looking at a study from an Anthropology journal, BACK IT UP. Stick to the conversation going on in your discipline. Don’t cross streams, unless you are very careful about it. Like, Oregon Trail-style-careful-stream-crossing.
Remember that you should try to work with more recent sources–if you create a 40 year-old conversation and it turns out that 10 years ago someone solved the problem you are working on, then your work is just repeating what’s out there. Your thesis could be a footnote. You can specify the date of the articles you are looking at to make sure.
JSTOR is probably the easiest way to browse articles, but it’s not the only way. If you want to get out of the house (this is actually a very good idea now that the cold is setting in), head over to the Reg. They have hard-copies of recent academic journals. Oh, and THEY HAVE SUBJECT LIBRARIANS WHOSE EXACT JOB IS TO DO YOUR RESEARCH FOR YOU.
No joke. You tell them what you are working on, they go find a bunch of books/articles that you can use for your thesis. USE THE SUBJECT LIBRARIANS.
If you find stuff from a book that the library has, they will scan big chunks of the book and have it waiting for you. Go for a little walk, clear your head, develop mild frostbite, and pick up another chapter to read.
Another massive database is MLA (EBSCO). You can get to it by searching MLA in the ‘databases’ search on the Reg’s website. Also maybe click here and it will work?
Also, it’s not exactly research, but if you want to see the kind of project’s MAPHers have done in the past, there are a couple boxes of old theses in the MAPH lounge. Ask someone from the office if you can’t find em. They are to STAY IN THE LOUNGE.
There are tons of other ways to do research. If you are having trouble feel free to shoot us an email. Probably better to email a librarian though.
OK that’s about it for now.
In case you missed it, check out the trailer for the upcoming feature film “The Researching”:
Also, check out this fully completed video thesis to get an example of what really well researched argumentative work looks like:
Much Love and Warmth,
Coming soon….Fun (read ‘free’) Things to do over Winter Break
Hey all. In case you hadn’t heard, there is a Presidential election tomorrow. If you haven’t been following it, the election is between a controversial Democratic ex-Senator and ex-Secretary of State who would be the first female President of the United States. Her opponent is a controversial “Republican” ex-TV host, ex-failed businessman who would be the first literal-bag-of-eels President of the United States.
Anyways, the presidents are not the only ones on the ballot, and I wanted to give a quick and dirty explanation of some of the other stuff you should vote on.Ballot Selfies
Sorry people. Ballot selfies are illegal in Illinois, and one thing I know is that UChicago will not excuse absences based on getting arrested.Senate Race
Like many of the races on the ballot in the safely blue fields (streets) of Illinois, this race is basically over. Mark Kirk has been, for democrats, a stain on this state for the last few years. Tammy Duckworth is practically made for political office. See my facebook post on this.House Race
Bobby Rush is distinguished as the only politician to have defeated Barack Obama in an election, which he did in the 2000 Democratic primary for Illinois’ 1st congressional district. A civil rights activist during the 1960s, Rush became radicalized for a period and founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. He’s been a rep for IL since 1993, and is basically crushing it. Whether you like him or not, it would take some seriously crazy election happenings for him to be going anywhere this year.
August (O’neil) Deuser doesn’t seem like the best or worst person on the planet. He is a body the Republicans have picked to show up on a ballot this year in an election they know he’ll lose, so don’t hate. From his website: “We need to clean up government spending, put term limits for all political offices in place, focus on our children’s education, get Social Security back on track for the people that pay into it, develop a health care system that is affordable to all people and better support our veterans.”Amendment 1
This is a reasonably contentious issue, and if you are going to pay attention to one thing on this ballot that is not the presidential race, it should be this. Basically the amendment is trying to protect the transportation fund from being pillaged by other government projects. Ever since Rod Blagojevich got into office, it’s been traditional to loot the (large, and important) roads and bridges fund for pet projects.
You remember rod right? the 4th IL governor to serve prison time:
Well this “lock box” amendement is generally favored by democrats (with strong support from unions) and generally hated by republicans (who tend to hate union power)
Dems say that people keep raiding this money and that it needs to be protected. Repubos say that this money should be available in case of emergencies or disasters, and that if it’s in a lock-box for transportation then it can’t be used on schools (ha.)
Personally, I will be voting Yes for the lock-box. I suspect that in the case of a disaster, there could be an emergency override of this amendment, and I also suspect that FEMA would get involved. As for schools and any other things that money might go towards, I don’t think we should be forced into a position where the money has to either go towards crumbling infrastructure or schools. I think we should be sending more money to both. That’s me though, I’m not gonna tell you how to vote (just suggest it).IL State Comptroller
Not gonna lie, I don’t really know what this person does. Susana Mendoza is running, she has served two terms as City Clerk and served in the house before that. Her republican opponent, Leslie Munger, is the current Comptroller and has been since Judy Topinka died last year (RIP). Leslie is a businesswoman and was chosen by Bruce Rauner to fill the seat. She seems to be a perfectly fine choice. That said, I tend to support people in my party, and POC seeking elected office.
There are a few measures on the ballot that are mostly useless, it’s basically like a poll. No actual implementation, so, do what you want. Follow your heart. That said, pay attention to County measure 1. They are thinking of collapsing the offices of the recorder of deeds and the clerks office.
Pro argument-Saves money, both offices do the same thing for the most part.
Anti argument- Saves only a tiny fraction of the budget, something like 0.003%. Some have argued that it’s a racist move, as the previous clerks of the recorder of deeds have been black. The idea is that it’s taking away a route of access to the government from people who are traditionally excluded.
OK that’s all I got for you. Sorry for the wonkish post.
Vote your brains out folks. Have fun.