MAPH Director Thomas Christensen’s scholarly research centers on the history of music theory. Fundamental to his work has been a desire to situate the many intellectual frames, arguments and linguistic models used by writers in the early modern period deeply within cultural discourses. Hence, as one example, Christensen’s 1993 monograph on Jean-Philippe Rameau attempts to analyze his music theory as a complex response to both the empirical as well as synthetic values of Enlightenment science. Other key articles have concerned the writings of the 17th-century savants, Marin Mersenne and Seth Calvisius, thorough-bass theory in the 18th century; the reception of Rameau’s theories in Germany; problems in the historiography of music theory; and the history and social aesthetics of playing piano transcriptions in the 19th century. Many of these articles have recently been reprinted in a volume that was published in 2014 entitled “The Work of Music Theory.” He has also attempted more synthetic surveys of historical music theory, particularly as editor of the Cambridge History of Western Music Theory (published in 2003; translations into Macedonian and Chinese).
Christensen’s research has received support and recognition over the years from a variety of academic associations and funding agencies. In 2011-12, he spent a year as Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. Most recently, Christensen received Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation (2015) and the ACLS (2015) to support his present project on the music theory of the Belgian music scholar, Joseph Fétis, and its reception in the 19th-century. An active citizen in the broader intellectual community of music scholars, Christensen has served as President of the Society for Music Theory (1999-2001) and worked for several decades to further collaborative ties with German and French colleagues in music.
Hilary Strang is MAPH's Deputy Director and Lecturer in the Department of English. She has degrees in cultural studies and critical theory from Brown University and Carnegie Mellon, and a Ph.D. in English from Chicago. Her research interests include nineteenth century British literature, the novel, radical culture, science fiction and Marxism. She has published on Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and biopolitics. Her current research is on unemployment as a biopolitical category in the mid-Victorian novel. Hilary also teaches literature in The Odyssey Project, a college-credit liberal arts program for low-income adults.
Associate Director Maren Robinson holds a B.A. in English Literature from Montana State University. She graduated from MAPH in 2003 where she wrote an original play and a thesis length paper using Virginia Woolf and Peter Brook to examine gender, space and theatrical creation, a version of which was published in the Center for Classic Theater Review. Her interests include renaissance drama, dramaturgy, performance studies and new play development. Maren toured with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks and was an artistic intern at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. In her spare time, Maren teaches dramaturgy and script analysis at another four-year university, and works as a dramaturg for many Chicago theaters, especially TimeLine Theatre where she is a company member and resident dramaturg and Lifeline Theatre where she is an ensemble member. She is happy to discuss MAPH, give recommendations for current dance and theater productions, trade knitting patterns, or talk about Yellowstone National Park.
Jane Bohnsack is MAPH’s Program Manager. She is originally from Cleveland, Ohio where she spent much of her childhood as a pre-professional ballet student. Ultimately deciding not to pursue a dance career, Jane moved to Chicago in 2007. She received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University and she has a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and Policy from Northwestern University. In her spare time, Jane still dances, enjoys reading genre fiction, and is learning how to powerlift.
Jeff McMahon helps MAPH students adapt their writing to the particular demands of graduate school, and he teaches journalism courses as a lecturer for the Committee on Creative Writing. He writes about the environment and green technology for Forbes. He has been a reporter and columnist for daily newspapers, alternative weeklies, and innovators in online journalism including The New York Times Company's Lifewire syndicate. He is a founding editor, along with other MAPH alumni, of Contrary magazine. He completed MAPH in 2002.
Isabeau Dasho is a Program Mentor. She received her BFA in Creative Writing from Stephens College in 2009, and minored in Gender Studies. After spending a few years variously as a bank teller, nanny, after school science programing organizer, bartender and pizza slinger at a place called Shakespeares, she moved to the City of Broad Shoulders and began walking and brunching extensively. During her MAPH year, Isabeau investigated the confluences of feminism, ecology, and speculative fiction. In addition to her analytical engagement, Isabeau spent a lot of time contemplating the physics of Space Whales and their exploitation through her creative thesis work. Alongside her course work, she attended many of the workshops and lectures put on by the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. When not on campus Isabeau can likely be found eating tacos or baking.
Nigel O'Hearn is a program mentor. He received his B.A from St. Edward's University in 2009, where he double majored in Theatre and English. After undergrad, Nigel served as Artistic Director and Resident Playwright of Palindrome Theatre in his hometown, Austin, Texas. He moved to Chicago in early 2014 to work in Chicago's vibrant storefront theatre community. In addition to taking a number of poetics and poetry courses during his MAPH year, Nigel emphasized in the university's new graduate-level Theatre and Performance Studies option; his analytical research in that field focused on the implications of neurocognitive processes on performance. Like a crazy person, Nigel also completed a UChicago Arts, Sciences, and Culture Graduate Collaborative grant last year, working with a neuropsychology student to devise and implement a study that gauged the cognitive and emotional impact of collaborative poetry reading on Alzheimer's patients and their primary caregivers. Nigel applied this work to his creative thesis, Song We Forgot to Sing: a play in several scenes and poems, which is a verse dramatization of that study process. Nigel goes full-dork about Scandinavian dramatic literature and has been slowly learning Norwegian for the past five years.
Dustin Brown is a PhD candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature, where he works on the literatures and cultures of nineteenth-century Britain. Currently, he is completing a dissertation on the aesthetic and ideological valences of “personality” in Victorian literature and sciences of mind. The project reads novels, poems, articles and monographs to track the strange and surprising ways that forms of psychic individuality marked by incoherence, ambivalence and depressive withdrawal perform legitimating functions in the stories the Victorians told themselves about imperial domination and classsociety. His quasi-research interests include vernacular avant-gardes in our own moment (e.g. heavy metal subcultures, trolling communities on twitter), genre fiction/TV, and the evolving language of neoliberalism.
Darrel Chia is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Chicago. His dissertation, The Disciplines of Diplomacy: Ethics, Publics, Economics 1899-1919 claims diplomacy as a key figure through which normative conceptions of moral citizenship and political agency (encoded in the Bildungsroman), get reinterpreted within a set of trans-Atlantic literary responses to the imperialisms of the early 20th-century. First, this project traces how a new kind of imperial politics (operating through the civilizing mission, and the institutionalization of public international law) exerted pressures on the field of diplomacy. Second, it describes narrative attempts to disclose the affective styles of a diplomatic-political ethics, in particular in the form of: tact; discretion; indifference; the neutral; and the disambiguation of foreign policy and melodrama).
Darrel researches and teaches in the areas of postcolonial and global Anglophone literatures, the literature of travel and displacement, cosmopolitanism and nationalism, law and literature, and gender and sexuality.
He holds a law degree from Murdoch University, and practiced for several years in Australia. He also has an honours degree in English from the Australian National University. He enjoys walking his dog along the parks and lakeshore paths of Hyde Park.
Tristan Schweiger received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago in 2015, where he studied the literature of the British long eighteenth century. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in English and Classical Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation, "Planters, Mariners, Nabobs, and Squires: Masculine Types and Imperial Ideology, 1719-1817," assesses the intersection of gender and empire in texts spanning Robinson Crusoe to Rob Roy. His broader research interests include historicism, postcolonialism, political philosophy, gender theory, and economics. Before coming to the University of Chicago, Tristan worked as a newspaper reporter, covering state and local politics at a series of publications on the East Coast.
Megan Tusler received her PhD in English from the University of Chicago in 2015, where she has taught courses in the American novel and photography, girlhood and American literature, and literary culture in Los Angeles. Her undergraduate degrees from Mills College are in English with a creative writing focus and Ethnic Studies, focusing on literature and race. She is at work on two projects, American Snapshot: Urban Realism from New Deal to Great Society, which argues that political belonging in the 20th century United States produces unique forms of realism in response to social crisis, particularly through the mode of the photo-text, and On Other Loathing, about misanthropy and negative affect in the American novel. Her work evaluates photographs, poetry, novels, short fiction, public documents, and documentary and narrative films. When not writing, she volunteers for Sit, Stay, Read, a literacy program that brings dogs into elementary school classrooms and Girls Rock! Chicago, a girls’ empowerment rock and roll camp. She enjoys sewing, true crime television and Windy City Soul Club.