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Information, Announcements, and Hard-Earned Wisdom for Students in the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities at the University of Chicago
Updated: 25 min 20 sec ago

Spring Break (woo.)

Mon, 2017-03-06 14:29


Well, OK, it’s not spring, but apparently these days winter lasts about two weeks at the end of December. For all intents and purposes it’s Spring.

Some lily varieties have evolved to mimic local fauna for protection

Congratulations on being present for an historic event in Chicago history:  this is the first time in recorded history that Chicago had no snowfall in January and February!

Big thanks to the parts of the current administration that are trying to get us out of the Paris accord.  Real win for America, that.  I’m sure Steve Bannon knows science better than…..scientists.







Are you interested in seeing how you or your home will disappear into the sea? Check out this interactive map to learn just how much water your community can stand!










Can you believe Spring Break (woo) is approaching?  Just two short weeks from now you have the luxury of realizing how far behind on your thesis-work you are, and how little time it will be before you are once again ejected into the cold reality of professional life.

We of the MAPH office thought we might check in to highlight a few things to do over the next month or so in Chicago, and offer some advice as the end of the year races towards us.

Good advice. Bill Nye, 2020

OK Important Stuff First: Self-Care

This can be among the most stressful times of the year for MAPHers. You may feel isolated, under siege, and not up to the task of the final months of the program.


Don’t forget your project here: being a MAPHer is harder than being a first-year PhD student, because you are producing your thesis in addition to a FULL class load.

But it will get a little easier in Spring quarter. As you know, next quarter you will only have 2 classes. For about 3 days, you’ll say something like, “The rest of the year is a breeze! I love Spring Quarter!”

Then you will say something like, “I fucking hate Spring Quarter.”

It can be hard to get real serious about your thesis. It’s stressful to have looming deadlines.  And you will find that having two classes still keeps you extremely busy (after all, you may have been ignoring roughly the amount of reading of a full class between your three winter classes).

But overall, I think MAPHers really come into their own in Spring.  All of a sudden your cobbled-together mass of thesis starts to look like a professional piece of academic work.  You get onto the Irony listerserv and start seeing all the badass jobs you can do as a humanist.  You start to internalize the waves of theory that have been hitting you for six months (thaaat’s what Hegel was doing!)

The weather will be gorgeous.  Or it will be super cold.  Or it will get to like 90 degrees and humid.  Pretty much up in the air.

(see what I did there?  up in the air?  the weather is up in the air?)

Also groom yourself

You might actually have some breathing room.  You might actually be motivated to get out of Hyde Park.  I think you SHOULD get out of Hyde Park.  Get a little Vitamin D, see this great city. Take the architecture tour. Take care of your mental health.

On that note, here are some things to do in the coming weeks.  There is SO MUCH going on, this is only a tiny slice of stuff that jumped out at me.

Things to Do: Baconfest: April 1

It’s baconfest people. ‘Nuff said.

Women Perform Shakespeare: March 3-26

Woman play all the parts in Henry V, a war story about leadership in the face of adversity at City Lit Theater. Discount tickets $6 to $10.

Orchid Show: March 3-26

Nothing says springtime in Chicago like a presentation of East Asian flowers brought to this continent in the 1700’s. Seriously though, they are gorgeous. Or if you want to go emo, check out their corpse flower. If you can get there, it’s worth it. Add a trip to the B’hai temple while you’re up there.

Official Blurb:

See 10,000 blooming orchids at the Orchid Show, with morning music Tuesdays & Thursdays, orchid sales March 11 & 12 & 30, and an Evening with Orchids cocktail tasting March 16 at Chicago Botanic Garden.

Personally I would prefer blooming onions, but this is cool too

Rabbits love orchids

Peace on Earth Film Festival Mar 10-12:

Take a break from the blockbusters and learn a thing or two at the Peace on Earth Film Festival, which showcases a series of social justice-oriented films and filmmaking panels.

The three day event showcases films about social justice and human rights with the aim of advancing world peace. This year’s opening night films address prison reform with “Beyond the Wall”, a behind-the-scenes documentary and a drama by award-winning director John Hancock starring Nick Nolte. Other notable films include Sharon Stone’s conversation with Skokie resident and Holocaust survivor Sam Harris and a documentary about the Onondaga Nation waging a battle with the U.S. government for its land in central New York.

Adult Variety Show: March 3 – June 23

Kiss Kiss Cabaret is a fun mix of burlesque, off-color comedy, music, magic, and variety acts at Uptown Underground for age 21+. Discount tickets $14.

If you haven’t been to the music box, you should go.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade: March 11

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade goes north on Columbus Drive from Balbo to Monroe, rain or shine. Free.

Celebrate St. Patty’s day like a true Chicagoan: Get drunk at 10am, get in a fight at 10:15am, vomit into the river at 10:28am (they turn the river green!) and fall asleep at 10:35am.

Repeat at Noon, 5pm, and 10pm.


  Or maybe you don’t want to celebrate like an as–I mean, like an enthusiastic Chicagoan.  If so, check out the Irish-American Heritage Center’s St. Patrick’s Festival:

Not down for the madness of the downtown parade but still want to celebrate? Celebrate a more traditional way with Irish food, dances, and live music at the Irish-American Heritage Center’s St. Patrick’s Festival.

Mar 17-19: Take in a series of workshops, competitions demonstrations at the Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention, where artists from across the nation come to show off their skills. You can even get inked yourself.


Free Food Festival: March 18

Sorry, did you not see that?  FREE FOOD FESTIVAL.

Good Food Festival is all about locally produced food, with speakers, micro workshops, chef demonstrations, vendors, and a kids’ corner. Register free online and bring your confirmation.

Mar 17-19: Encounter a whole new level of pet obsession at the Chicagoland Family Pet Expo. Shop for the latest pet treats and toys, or meet with breeding clubs and rescue organizations. No pets allowed lol.


OK, that’s it for now.  Have a great spring break y’all

Love you,

Yer Menters

Categories: News

Winter Quarter/Dog Advice Blog

Fri, 2017-01-13 14:33
Dearest Party People, Winter is here.

Bet you were expecting a Game of Thrones reference

For many MAPHers this is the most stressful time of the year.  It can be hard to adjust to 3

Cold and angry

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

Brent and his family, c. 1947

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.


Brent’s advisor used tough love.  Also was a cat.

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.

Our advice?

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.



This archival video of Annie writing her thesis should awe and inspire you

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.

In some rare cases your writing IS you

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. 

And in conclusion, Mylo and Grover wanted to share their ideas for their own thesis projects.


  • 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


Admittedly that is a good advice

Categories: News

Winter Wonder/Waste land

Wed, 2016-12-07 16:57
Congratulations!!! One third of your MAPH career is over, and it’s time to head off to winter “break”

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

December 10th

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
Admission: Free
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.


This is fine.

(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.


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.

I can’t possibly be the only one who grew up afraid of nutcrackers

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.

MAPH the album cover

Winter love from MAPH



Categories: News