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Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar (NLUS) 2019

Modern Literature and Art in Chicago 1900-1960

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Applications Due:
September 30, 2018, 11:59pm

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What topics will be discussed in NLUS 2019?

This seminar examines modern literature and art in relation to Chicago's unique history, neighborhoods and demographics between 1900 and 1960. Students will consider the city as an important center of innovation and production in all the arts—visual, musical, dance, and literature—and each will produce a significant original research paper based on materials in the Newberry Library's collections.

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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), January 15 through May 2, 2019, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00–5:00 p.m. Participating DePaul students will earn 9 hours of credit in two disciplines, enrolling in 4.5 credits during winter quarter 2018 and 4.5 credits in spring quarter 2018. (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.

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

DePaul applicants should go ahead and register for WQ 2019 courses 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 most cases can satisfy the gateway-capstone sequence requirement for HST majors (fulfilling the equivalent of a 300-level HST course and HST 390).

How do I apply?

Admission to the seminar is by application, and spaces are limited.
The application deadline is September 30, 2018, 11:59 pm.
Ready to apply? Apply now!​

Required Application Components:

  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 (see brochure), 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

NLUS 2019 Course Description:

This seminar examines modern literature and art in relation to Chicago’s unique history, neighborhoods and demographics. Besides surveying major works produced in this city, the course will examine how Chicago’s 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. As such, the course will be divided into units focusing on popular, populist, and avant-garde movements in art and literature. Topics within these units will include the Chicago Black Arts movement, local writing on literature, art, and architecture, little magazines, and major exhibitions such as the Armory Show (1913) and the Negro In Art Week (1927).

The course has four primary objectives: students will come away able to think critically about the formal and aesthetic properties of early to mid-twentieth-century Chicago art, architecture, and literature; they will gain an understanding of connections between art and broader cultural issues; they will learn how to use an archive to do historical research; and they will learn how to incorporate what they find to produce a substantive, graduate-level research paper.

The course will utilize the full resources of the Newberry’s holdings on Chicago modernism to develop the course’s central premise: that the city should be regarded as an important center of innovation and production in all the arts—visual, musical, dance, literature, and architecture.

The course draws on the papers of writers such as Eunice Tietjens and Sherwood Anderson; columnists Claudia Cassidy, Ben Hecht, Henry Hanson, and Fanny Butcher; and materials as diverse as those associated with both world’s fairs, the Arts Club of Chicago, and the Midwest Dance Collection. Students will also read primary sources such as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, and Carl Sandburg, art criticism by Harriet Monroe, as well as issues of her celebrated Poetry magazine. Students will also engage the major modernist artworks made and exhibited in this city. Carefully chosen trips to local institutions include the Art Institute and the National Museum of Mexican Art. For their final projects, students will be encouraged to address their own interests, stemming from the texts and artworks under examination, and just as importantly, drawing on their exploration of the Newberry’s holdings.​

Who is teaching the course?

The course will be taught by Drs. Melissa Bradshaw and Mark Pohlad.

Melissa Bradshaw teaches in the English Department at Loyola University Chicago. Her research focuses on publicity, personality, and fandom in twentieth century British and American literature. She has published extensively on the American poet Amy Lowell, co-editing a volume of her poems as well as a volume of scholarly essays about her. Her book, Amy Lowell, Diva Poet (Ashgate, 2011), won the 2011 MLA Book Prize for Independent Scholars. She has also published on Edith Sitwell, Edna St. Vincent Millay and on divas more generally. She is an associate editor of the journal Feminist Modernist Studies and is currently working on an edition of Amy Lowell’s collected letters, as well as a book on celebrity poets and ephemera, titled “Collectible Women: American Poets as Things.”

Mark Pohlad is Associate Professor in the department of History of Art and Architecture, at DePaul University. An Americanist with a strong background in modern art, he teaches courses in American, modern, 19th-century, and the history of photography. He recently published the monograph, James R. Hopkins: Faces of the Heartland (Ohio State University Press, 2017) that accompanied a multivenue exhibition he co-curated of the same title. Pohlad’s publications explore Chicago topics, the art and literature associated with Abraham Lincoln, and the history of photography. He recently gave a lecture for C-SPAN on the imagery of Lincoln, and is featured in a WTTW “Art Design Chicago” documentary on the Chicago sculptor, Lorado Taft.​

For questions or more information

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