College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > History > Student Resources > Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar

Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar (NLUS) 2021

Chicago, City of Industry, Art, & Labor, 1890-1960

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Applications Due:
October 19, 2020, 11:59pm

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What topics will be discussed in NLUS 2021?

In this seminar, students will explore and research connections between arts and industry in Chicago's history and culture.

More NLUS 2021 Info

What is the Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar?

The Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar (NLUS) provides an opportunity for DePaul undergraduates to participate in an intensive seminar and produce an original research project using the world-renowned collections of the Newberry Library. This is an especially important opportunity for students considering graduate study in history or the humanities.

Up to five DePaul students will be selected to participate in this seminar along with students from UIC, Roosevelt, and Loyola universities. During the first part of the course, students investigate topics related to the seminar’s theme and work with the various types of resources that the Newberry has to offer. Then, under the guidance of the instructors and using primary sources from the Newberry, they select a topic to explore and develop into a research paper and presentation. The seminar is team-taught by instructors from different disciplines. (See below for more information on this year's instructors.)

This is a semester-long seminar that meets at the Newberry Library (Clark/Division stop on the CTA's Red line). Participating DePaul students will earn 9 hours of credit in two disciplines, enrolling in 4.5 credits during winter quarter 2020 and 4.5 credits in spring quarter 2020. (Students must complete the semester-long course to receive credit for either quarter.) The two departments or programs in which the student earns credit for NLUS participation will be determined by the student in consultation with his or her advisor and the relevant departments or programs.

The semester-based class is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons 2-5pm from January 19, 2021 through May 6, 2021. The format and structure of the course may be adjusted due to the ongoing public health situation.

Participation in NLUS also can be used to satisfy the Liberal Studies "Experiential Learning" requirement.

DePaul applicants should go ahead and register for winter quarter as they would otherwise. They should nonetheless be prepared to drop one course and to make Tuesday and Thursday afternoons available if they are accepted into NLUS. Applicants will know by Thanksgiving if they have been accepted.

Special Note for History majors: Successful completion of the Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar in some cases can satisfy the gateway-capstone sequence requirement for HST majors (fulfilling the equivalent of a 300-level HST course and HST 390). For further information about this possibility, please contact Prof. Tikoff at

Admission to the seminar is by application, and spaces are limited.
The application deadline is October 19, 2020, 11:59 pm.
Ready to apply? Apply now!

  1. Written Statement: A written statement (maximum 500 words) explaining your preparation and reasons for participation in the Newberry Library seminar. You should discuss your interest in the topic , courses that you have taken and experiences that you have had that prepare you for the seminar, and the ways in which you see this seminar relating to your short-term and long-term educational and/or career plans. Please include a discussion of your experience conducting academic research.
  2. Writing Sample: This should be a copy of a recent research paper or analytical essay (paper containing a thesis statement supported by evidence and analysis) that you have written for a college course.
  3. Unofficial DePaul transcript: You can print out a copy from Campus Connection.
  4. Brief Letter of Recommendation from Faculty Member: All applications require one letter of recommendation from a professor who is familiar with your work and can attest to your readiness to do intensive interdisciplinary study and independent library research. It should be sent to Prof. Tikoff via e-mail (to The letter need not be long, but please give your recommender ample time to write it and submit it by the application deadline. If your recommender has any questions, please have him or her contact Valentina Tikoff at 773-325-1570, or

Chicago is as famous for its art as it is for its industry. Both made this town into the quintessential nineteenth-century city that did more to shape the United States’ aesthetics, economics, and politics than the nickname “Second City” suggests. Many Americans presume the arts and industry to be at odds with one another when, in fact, they have not only grown in tandem but have been historically intertwined. For example, the architects who crafted Chicago’s iconic architectural style did so through their work on State Street’s retail giants; Chicago businessman Charles Norman Fay drew Theodore Thomas, founder and first conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, from New York to Chicago with the promise of a permanent fully-funded orchestra; and editor Harriet Monroe relied on start-up funds from major industrialists like George A. Hormel for her ground-breaking magazine, Poetry, A Magazine of Verse.

The Spring 2021 Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar (NLUS) highlights the connections between Chicago’s cultural and industrial past, examining how its creative production arose from its identity as a rail and mail order hub, meat processing center, architectural innovator, site for world’s fairs, and as a flashpoint for racial and labor tension. Students will explore the Newberry’s Chicago holdings to understand how the city became an important center of artistic innovation and production, not in spite of, but because of Chicago’s role as a major center of commerce where laborers fought to change what it meant to work, live, and create in modern America.

Students in the seminar also will examine some of these intersections between art and industry in Chicago together, then pursue their own seminar-related research interests as each produced a substantive, original research paper. In their research projects, students will be encouraged to follow their own intellectual curiosity about the texts and artworks that we discuss together and to  delve further into the Newberry’s vast archival collections, including materials pertaining to American literature, Chicago and Midwestern writers, Chicago neighborhoods, Chicago’s labor movement, and other relevant collections pertaining to Chicagoland’s history.

The class is scheduled meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons 2-5 pm from January 19, 2021 through May 6, 2021. The format and structure of the course may be adjusted due to the ongoing public health situation.

The course will be taught by Drs. Melissa Bradshaw and Elizabeth Tandy Shermer.

Dr. Bradshaw is a member of the English Department faculty at Loyola University Chicago. View bio

Dr. Shermer is a member of the History Department faculty at Loyola University Chicago. View bio

For questions or more information

Contact Prof. Valentina Tikoff at or 773-325-1570.