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Master of Arts Program in the Humanities

This is an archived copy of the 2012-13 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit


  • David Wray, Classics, Comparative Literature

The Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) is an intensive one-year interdisciplinary program leading to the A.M. degree. MAPH is designed to address the diverse needs and interests both of intellectual generalists and of specialists who stand to benefit from a year of intensive work in the humanities. Many MAPH students are recent college graduates. Others are professionals at mid-career, freelance writers, or performers. They hold undergraduate degrees from public and private institutions throughout the world, in disciplines ranging from biology to English to marketing. A number come with extensive experience in non-academic fields, including independent film-making, politics, science, non-profit work, and business.

Approximately half the students in MAPH plan to continue their studies at the doctoral level in preparation for a career in university teaching and research. For these students, MAPH provides an ideal setting for clarifying their academic and professional goals and offers a year of intensive preparation for competitive Ph.D. programs.

MAPH’s emphasis on critical writing, analytical thinking, scholarly research, and flexible cultural perspectives has also proved invaluable for those interested in careers in cultural institutions and cultural policy, publishing, journalism, business, politics, secondary school or community college teaching, and the full spectrum of the nonprofit sector.

Degree Requirements

Requirements for the A.M. degree include:

  • The fall quarter MAPH Core Course, Foundations of Interpretive Theory (known to MAPH students as “Core”). Core begins two weeks before regular University classes and covers seminal works by thinkers such as Freud, Lacan, and Marx. It is taught by the MAPH Directors and may include guest lectures by distinguished faculty members from different disciplines. The course is designed to give MAPH students a shared base for their further study.
  • Seven elective courses chosen from the Division of the Humanities, Social Sciences, or the other divisions and professional schools. The choice of these courses is left largely to the student, although a program of study will be designed in consultation with and approved by the student's preceptor and other faculty advisers. Some students concentrate their courses in one field of study; others take a wide-ranging variety of courses in multiple disciplines. Most programs of study fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
    MAPH also offers several Program Options, developed in consultation with Humanities Division departments and committees, which provide guidance in selecting electives for interested students. The Options include programs of study designed by Classics, Cinema and Media Studies, the Cultural Policy Center in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, and the Committee on Creative Writing. The MAPH Creative Writing Option is the University of Chicago’s alternative to a traditional MFA.
  • A master’s thesis of 25 to 35 pages, produced under the supervision of a faculty thesis adviser and a preceptor, and completed toward the end of the spring quarter. In conjunction with thesis preparation, students take a thesis workshop, which involves small group meetings focused on the development of thesis topics and the writing of the thesis. MAPH thesis projects range from traditional research papers to creative works accompanied by a critical assessment.


Preceptors are advanced graduate students or recent Ph.D.s, each of whom oversees the progress of 10-12 MAPH students. Each student is assigned a preceptor for the academic year. In addition to serving as a general adviser, the preceptor leads small discussion groups in connection with the Core course and leads the winter and spring thesis workshops. Preceptors also offer courses specially designed for MAPH students in the winter and spring quarters.


Applicants to MAPH must meet the general divisional requirements for admission and will submit a critical writing sample of no more than 15 pages. Students applying to the MAPH Creative Writing Option must also submit a substantial creative writing sample in their chosen genre (e.g., several poems, a short story, a chapter from a work of longer fiction in progress, a play, or a 10-15 page work of creative nonfiction).

For further information, visit the MAPH website at or email or phone (773) 834-1201.

To apply, go to .




Master of Arts Program in the Humanities Courses

MAPH 33000. Methods and Issues in Cinema Studies. 100 Units.

This course offers an introduction to ways of reading, writing on, and teaching film. The focus of discussion will range from methods of close analysis and basic concepts of film form, technique and style; through industrial/critical categories of genre and authorship (studios, stars, directors); through aspects of the cinema as a social institution, psycho-sexual apparatus and cultural practice; to the relationship between filmic texts and the historical horizon of production and reception. Films discussed will include works by Griffith, Lang, Hitchcock, Deren, Godard.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 48000,CMST 40000

MAPH 33700. History of International Cinema II: Sound Era to 1960. 100 Units.

The center of this course is film style, from the classical scene breakdown to the introduction of deep focus, stylistic experimentation, and technical innovation (sound, wide screen, location shooting). The development of a film culture is also discussed. Texts include Thompson and Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction; and works by Bazin, Belton, Sitney, and Godard. Screenings include films by Hitchcock, Welles, Rossellini, Bresson, Ozu, Antonioni, and Renoir.

Instructor(s): Y. Tsivian     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Prior or concurrent registration in CMST 10100 required. Required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies.
Note(s): CMST 28500/48500 strongly recommended
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 28600,ARTH 28600,ARTH 38600,ARTV 26600,CMLT 22500,CMLT 32500,CMST 48600,ENGL 29600,ENGL 48900

MAPH 36000. History of International Cinema I: Silent Era. 100 Units.

This course introduces what was singular about the art and craft of silent film. Its general outline is chronological. We also discuss main national schools and international trends of filmmaking.

Instructor(s): J. Lastra     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Prior or concurrent enrollment in CMST 10100. Required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies.
Note(s): This is the first part of a two-quarter course.
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 28500,ARTH 28500,ARTH 38500,ARTV 26500,ARTV 36500,CMLT 22400,CMLT 32400,CMST 48500,ENGL 29300,ENGL 48700

MAPH 36500. Advanced Theories of Sex/Gender: Ideology, Culture, and Sexuality. 100 Units.

Beginning with the extension of the democratic revolution in the breakup of the New Left, this seminar will expore the key debates (foundations, psychoanalysis, sexual difference, universalism, multiculturalism) around which gender and sexuality came to be articulated as politically significant categories in the late 1980s and the 1990s. (A)

Instructor(s): L. Zerilli     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Completion of GNSE 10100-10200 and GNSE 28505 or 28605 or permission of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 21410,ARTH 21400,ARTH 31400,ENGL 21401,ENGL 30201,GNSE 31400,PLSC 31410

MAPH 40000. Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. 100 Units.

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide.

Instructor(s): B. Laurence     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 30100,PHIL 21700,PHIL 31600,HIST 29301,HIST 39301,INRE 31600,LAWS 41200,LLSO 25100,HMRT 20100

MAPH 42800. Chicago. 100 Units.

In this course we will sample some of Chicago's wonders, exploring aspects of its history, literature, architecture, neighborhoods, and peoples. We begin with study of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and the early history of Chicago as a mecca for domestic and international immigrants. In subsequent weeks we will examine the structure of neighborhood communities, local debates about cultural diversity and group assimilation, and the ideology and artifacts of art movements centered in Chicago. This is an interdisciplinary course focusing not only on literary and historical texts, but also analyzing Chicago's architecture, visual artifacts and public art forms, local cultural styles, museum collections and curatorial practices. We will first explore Chicago sites textually, then virtually via the web, and finally in "real time”: Students will be required to visit various Chicago neighborhoods and cultural institutions.

Instructor(s): J. Knight     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): Cross listed courses are designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students.
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 22800,AMER 40800,ENGL 42800