DePaul University 18th Annual Philosophy Graduate Student Conference

You are invited to attend the 18th annual philosophy graduate student conference on April 9th, 2011. The conference, “Urban Nature and the Praxis of Denaturalization,” will be held in the DePaul Student Center, Room 220 (2250 N. Clifton, Chicago 60614) from 9am-6pm. The scope of this conference makes it of interest not only to philosophers, but also those working in environmental studies, urban studies, geography, political science, anthropology, sociology, English, literature, and other fields.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Timothy Morton, of the University of California at Davis. Author of Ecology Without Nature and The Ecological Thought, Dr. Morton will be delivering an address entitled, “Philosophy in the Time of Hyper-objects: Ecology and the Future after the End of the World.”

Please direct any inquiries to Perry Zurn, conference chair (


Master Class and Reading with William Lychack

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Master Class with William Lychack
3:30-5 pm
Location (on Lincoln Park campus) TBA

Reading by William Lychack
6 pm
Richardson Library, room 400
2350 N. Kenmore
Free & open to the public

The MAWP is pleased to announce an exciting opportunity for graduate students to work with visiting writer William Lychack, author of The Architect of Flowers, a new short-story collection that novelist Charles Baxter describes as “an amazing accomplishment, very complex and exceptionally beautiful.” In addition to reading from his work on the evening of April 14, Lychack has agreed to conduct a Master Class, in which he will discuss the work of three graduate students in the MAWP. Anyone may attend the actual class, but the work of only three graduate students will be discussed.

If you would like to submit work for consideration for this Master Class, please email a single piece of short fiction to Miles Harvey ( by Monday, April 4. And even if you don’t submit, mark your calendars! Everyone will benefit from hearing the response of a successful author to these drafts.

William Lychack’s work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, The American Scholar, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and other places, including public radio’s This American Life. He is the author of a novel, The Wasp Eater, and currently lives in Stamford, Vermont, and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program at Lesley University.

Digital Publishing Student Blogs

In Winter Quarter’s Digital Publishing (ENG 477) class, each student created a blog or website around a topic of his or her choosing. As you’ll see below, topics range from grilled cheese recipes to literary critique to honorable athletes. The main criterion was that the project be focused on something the student has a passion for, thus increasing the likelihood that the site would endure long after the course has ended.

The blogs/sites were also intended to provide a crash course in web publishing—in identifying a target readership, selecting a suitable publishing platform (from Wix to Blogspot to WordPress), creating varied content types (including audio or video components), marrying content with design, developing a social media strategy for networking and promotion, and finally developing ideas to potentially monetize the site, or at least leverage it as part of a career portfolio.

The students below are those who wished to share their projects with Ex Libris, and have written accompanying descriptions. – Paul Thomas, Instructor

Alexandra Bates: The Grilled Cheese Experience

The Grilled Cheese Experience is a blog aimed at experimenting with a variety of cheeses, spreads, sauces, toppings and breads to “discover” the perfect grilled cheese sandwich recipe. In this endless search, readers are encouraged to make, test and rate the sandwiches, as well as offer suggestions on how to improve recipes.

Cristina Dobson: Park Alexandria Website

This is the official site of the Park Alexandria Condominium Association, a 33-story residential building on the west side of Chicago’s Loop area. The site is geared toward building residents, as well as to our neighboring community.

Lynette Griffin: The Honorable Athlete

The Honorable Athlete is a blog highlighting the positive deeds of black athletes off the field. With all the negative stories about the activities of athletes, it is time to put a spotlight on the honorable.

Madeline Szrom: Things They Didn’t Tell Me About the City

Things They Didn’t Tell Me About The City is a blog about my experiences adapting to living in Chicago as well as a place for people to share their own stories.

Colin Harris: Hide Your Money in Your Books

Book reviews, essays, lit coverage, vitriol, ranting, and general pretension.

Umberto Umbertino: My Mamma’s Italian Kitchen

A site dedicated to honoring my mother’s memory by preserving and sharing the authentic Sicilian recipes that she had prepared throughout her lifetime. The site welcomes comments, suggestions and recipes from visitors, while sharing family culinary favorites, photos and music.

Jennifer Houghton: Being Kimber’s Aunt

How does becoming an aunt for the first time alter the opinions and landscape of a childless woman? I’m about to find out. Join me as I learn about “aunthood” and navigate through my existing opinions on children.

Kaitlin Sullivan: Makeup Always Fits

Makeup Always Fits, even if your jeans don’t. Narratives and reviews that remind us it’s okay to like girly things every once in a while.

Bethany Brownholtz: Words Made Simple

Ms. Bethany shares years of writing tutoring experience via Words Made Simple, a compilation of how-to articles on writing and research papers.

Molly Franken: A Windy City Wedding

From one Chicago bride to another, A Windy City Wedding is blog on planning and style as well as the general insanity of organizing your own wedding.

Ashleigh Johnson: The Filthy Truth

The Filthy Truth—a site dedicated to talking about what it’s really like to pursue a career in writing, how to turn your passion into profit, and resources to help you along the way.

Marnita Harris: Organic Face

This blog is dedicated to organic and all natural cosmetics. This blog will discuss the benefits of organic and natural cosmetics. Organic Face will highlight an “Organic Beauty Line” of the week so that readers are informed on several brands of organic/natural cosmetics.

Rebecca Perlow: Black Mood Craft

Black Mood Craft: Crafting for the easily bored and slightly maladjusted. An “alternative crafter” with clinical depression knits, sews, paints and makes jewelry for the enjoyment of herself and others.

Lindsay Branca: MotherFlick’N’Food

MotherFlick’N’Food is more than just a “dinner and a movie” blog. It’s a social commentary, sometimes witty and sarcastic, on flicks, food, pop culture, celebrities and life in and around Chicago. Opinions are strong, reviews are sassy, and reader-engagement is always encouraged.

Dublin Review of Books Flash Fiction Contest

The Dublin Review of Books is pleased to announce its second Flash Fiction Contest. The prize will bring recognition to distinguished flash fiction writing from within Ireland and around the world. The winning entry will receive 1,000 Euro. Second and third place will each receive 100 Euro. The top three stories will appear in The Dublin Review of Books.

Final judging will be made by authors James Ryan, Eilis Ni Dhuibhne and an editor from the drb.


  • Submit up to 3 flash fiction stories of no more than 500 words apiece. Work must be previously unpublished. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. Copyright will remain with winning authors. The drb reserves the rights to use winning entries up to one year after publication.
  • Manuscripts must include a cover letter containing name, address, e-mail address and/or telephone number, and the title of each work.
  • Entry fee is 10 Euro per story. Payment can be made through our PayPal account when submitting an entry.
  • Deadline for submissions is June 5, 2011 at 5 pm Dublin time. Entries received after this date will not be read. Only winning authors will be contacted.
  • Winning stories will be announced September 30, 2011.
  • Writers may submit through our online form (see details at
  • Submissions may also be made via email to Please include surname and first name in the subject line. If submitting via email, please paste stories in the body of the email AND send as an attachment in one of the following formats:
    • DOC (Microsoft Word)
    • RTF (Rich Text Format)

Confucius said… Teach Abroad in China

Christopher Walsh graduated from the MAWP in 2009 and then spent nearly a year living in China and teaching English. Here are his reflections on that experience.

Confucius once said, “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.” Now, Confucius said a lot of things, and if you happen to go to China, there will be no shortage of people who can recite something the great sage uttered. I like this quote though, because it describes the best attitude you can have when choosing to live in a foreign country.

Be heartened: China wants you. China is desperate to have you. It wants anyone who can speak English, but the prestige for having an American is very high indeed. The students as well will be eager to learn from you American English and not that silly British English most of their Chinese teachers speak. Many people will smile just to see you, a foreigner, in their country. And teaching at a university is one of the best ways to see the country. You get tons of vacation time and a salary (depending on where you live) that affords you a serious life of luxury. If only America were so kind to its teachers.

But while there are many similarities between America and China, there are important differences too—differences it is best to be aware of before you can properly jump into China with all your heart. My girlfriend, Christina, and I taught at Anyang Normal University in Anyang, Henan, China, one of the oldest regions in Chinese civilization (our apartment was a fifteen-minute bike ride from the 3,000-year-old Yin ruins). It’s easy to paint China with very broad, generalized strokes, something not helped by a reflex-to-unity present in the mainstream Chinese culture, very different from America’s reflex-to-individualism. Much of what I recount in this article applies directly to the Henan province; however, I have found, through reading other articles written about teaching in China as well as through personal testimony from friends I made who had taught elsewhere, that there are at least resonances between my experience in the Henan province and other regions of the country. Alright, enough hedging; let’s dive in, shall we?

The first thing you will notice is the staring. Everywhere you turn, people will have their eyes on you, parents will be pointing you out to their children, adults and teenagers alike will be shouting “Hello!” at you and then laughing with their friends. An introvert by nature, this was no small hurdle for me. It was fun the first week; I felt like a rock star. Soon, however, I found myself cultivating a practiced aloofness just so I didn’t have to make eye contact with everyone I saw. By the end of the first month, I wanted to punch the next person who yelled at me just to get a reaction. Not unlike, well …certain rock stars. Everyone’s response is different though. One of my lasting problems was an inability to turn off whatever mechanism in my brain responded to stares as though they were acts of aggression. Christina did not have this problem. The stares annoyed her, but they were not intrusions. The amount of stares you’ll receive naturally depends on where you are. Generally speaking, the more modern, the more urban your surroundings, the less likely people will be to harass you. Anyang was a very small city, by Chinese standards, of five hundred thousand, and Christina and I were two of only a handful of foreigners there, making us quite the rarity and the commodity.

The Chinese can be maddeningly calm at times. For instance, on the few occasions our apartment complex would randomly lose power (one instance lasting three days), you could find Christina and I yelling and waving our fists at the imagined buffoon responsible for it, calling anyone we could think of who might know how to fix it, while our Chinese neighbors used it as a chance to gather on the sidewalk with candles and chat about recent news. Is it a consequence of living under an authoritative government or a sensibility cultivated out of a healthier set of priorities—I can only speculate. But it makes perfect sense to me that theirs was the culture that pioneered the Zen mind.

This calm also extends into their business sense. They are not planners. For instance, during all four semesters I taught at Anyang Normal University, it wasn’t until the month preceding the end of the semester that we found out when the semester would actually end. As a consequence, officials have a tendency to spring things on you, such as calling you at 9:00 in the morning to tell you about a mandatory meeting scheduled for 9:30 or calling at lunchtime to tell you about a question-and-answer forum they’d like you to head, fielding questions from as many as three hundred students and faculty members, questions ranging from “Can you use chopsticks?” to “What do you know about the history of jazz?”

The teaching itself is often the source of your greatest pleasures and your greatest frustrations. The class I taught was Oral English, and it was, ostensibly, an entirely student-centered class. They could choose the topics because it didn’t matter what they talked about—only that they talked. Unfortunately, their primary school system harkens back to Dickensian times, when teachers pronounced knowledge from a pulpit and students diligently—and silently!—scribbled notes they would memorize later. So strong is this academic tradition that most of the college students I taught were literally aghast at the idea of taking charge of their own education. Even choosing topics they agreed on would not guarantee an actual discussion.

Students’ language proficiency also varied radically. Regardless of their major, there were always some students in my classes who seemed on the cusp of fluency and others who could not string together two sentences. I largely blame the structure of the educational system for this. In China, it’s extremely hard to get into college. There is a standardized tests high schoolers take just before graduation called the College Entrance Exam. The importance of this test cannot be overstated. This test score not only determines whether or not you go to college, but also which college you can go to. Children kill themselves over this test.

However, perhaps in response to this test, once you get in to college your graduation is all but guaranteed—regardless of your academic achievements. So once students finagle their way into a college, any college, many breathe a hefty sigh of relief and then take a four-year holiday, until they can collect their degree. Thus, you get students who never show up to class other than during the final exam, expecting you to pass them, and students who diligently copy and memorize every word you say, along with anything in-between.

But all of this is not to discourage you from teaching in China; on the contrary, I would be the first to encourage you to do so. It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a part of the world few can and add to your résumé experience that is sure to make it stand out at a time when it could be competing with thousands of others for a job. I just want you to know what you’re getting into.

It’s hard to boil an experience down to one emotion or a pithy maxim. To do so is to rob it of its complexity and power. My only advice, if you do choose to pursue a job in China, is to do so with all your heart. It’s too easy to become frustrated or measure it by American, industrialized, standards and shrug it off as a waste of time instead of experiencing it in itself, as its own entity, keeping your mind open to the insights its sure to illuminate about yourself and your own culture and expectations. Confucius, at least in this regard, had a valuable thing or two to say.

Open Books: Children, Literacy, and Books—Oh My!

By MAWP student Tracey Zdravkovic

I never thought my mere presence in a classroom could cause a group of second and third grade students to go crazy with joy—especially as an MAWP student—but it is definitely something that I look forward to every week.

Every Thursday, I trek to Jahn Elementary School (my alma mater, coincidentally) for Open Books Buddies, where I receive twenty hugs from twenty second and third graders, all dying to be better readers.

“You’re very popular here,” their teacher often tells me. We try to hush the students into a low rumble, so that I can collect the ones I need for the first 30 minutes of the hour. I, and ten other volunteers, will spend this time with them reading.

Not to gush, but as far as internships go, my time spent at Open Books as a Literacy Intern has been the most enjoyable and fulfilling experience I have ever had.

I landed at Open Books one year ago by an odd twist of fate (the hardware store where I work donated paint to their new offices!). Last February, I began volunteering as a creative writing coach, and I was hooked. Since the start of my internship in August, I have met and gotten to know more students than I can count, and I have broadened my experience both as a writer and as a lover of literacy.

Open Books is a non-profit literacy organization located at 213 W. Institute Place. We operate an incredible bookstore that is stocked with upwards of 50,000 books, all acquired through donations from the greatest of souls: book lovers. Our bookstore, along with special events and generous donations, funds our literacy programs that help thousands of youth throughout Chicago learn to love literacy.

Our programs include:

  • Open Books Buddies: weekly one-on-one reading help with elementary school students at public schools across Chicago;
  • Adventures in Creative Writing Field Trips: two-hour nonfiction poetry, slam poetry, and prose writing workshops for fourth-twelfth graders;
  • VWrite: one-on-one college and career mentoring for high school juniors; 
  • ReadThenWrite: our newest program, an immersive reading, writing, and publishing experience for at-risk teenage authors.

At Open Books, I don’t spend my time fetching coffee or running errands. I create my own curriculum and teach my own writing workshops. How many of us have been in workshops and thought, “I would do this so much differently?” I know I have. When I lead creative writing field trips I get to teach poems that I love and give students writing prompts that have worked for me. Each week at these trips I learn the superhero aspirations of rooms full of eager students and I get to listen to poems and stories about their ups, downs, and all-arounds. It really feeds my 13-year-old soul to hear haikus about sadness and it’s always nice to realize that life could be worse: I could be 13 again!

Open Books has the most amazing volunteers, who donate their time, energy and resources to the advancement of literacy. They fuel our programs and bookstore. We have a network of three thousand volunteers with around five hundred active at any given point; but trust me—we always need more volunteers! Volunteers work as writing coaches during field trips, big buddy mentors during Buddies, and high school mentors during VWrite and ReadThenWrite. Volunteers can donate as much time as they are able, and Open Books is always willing to work with people’s schedules and commitments.

Each day, I sit at my desk and I see one of my favorite post-field trip comments from an 8th grade student: “This field trip was very fun. I learned that writing poems can be very exciting.” Reading this every day reminds me that I was the student who needed to find a creative outlet, who needed a way to convince people to listen to her, who needed to be good at something. Many of the students we encounter at Open Books are those students, and luckily, we can give them their outlet, we can listen to them, we can show them they are good at something.

Do you want to share your love of reading and writing?

Want to see what we’re all about?

How about stocking up on great, affordable books that help fuel knowledge?

Come on by March 5th & 6th for our Open Boxes Sale. See the flyer below.