A graffiti artist leaves a message on the rails of Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail. (Photography by James Toftness, AM’11)

The humanities strike back

The latest Colloquium is an unlikely anthology, say its editors, and they couldn’t be prouder.

There is much to savor in the second issue of Colloquium, the fledgling online magazine of the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) —so much that rather than review it, I will steer you to it./

Colloquium made its debut this past fall, launched by MAPHers who wanted the work they’d begun around the seminar table to continue after graduation. Like its predecessor, the new issue offers thoughtful essays, pause-worthy photography, strong poetry and fiction, and odd little surprises.

You can listen to an electronic sitar jam and consider current events in Pakistan. Take a skateboard ride down a Chicago alley with Jean Grenier’s cat. Contemplate whether the crisis in the humanities is cause for panic or intrinsic to their vitality. And see guerrilla photos of Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail, soon to be beautified but now “a landscape of steel, rotting ties and wild grasses.”

The Internet is blooming with literary journals. Some are slick and highly trafficked; others, including Colloquium, are bold little experiments that push the medium to embrace film, music, translation, and stuff we haven’t even thought of yet. In less than a year the magazine has built a committed core of contributors and visitors, who gathered at an Alumni Weekend panel for live readings and performances from the first two issues.

That desire to forge real as well as virtual connections is a tribute to MAPH, an interdisciplinary program that “gives you a sense of daring that maybe you can try something and make it happen and it’ll be great,” says coeditor Bill Hutchison, AM’12. The same is true of the magazine: it’s daring, it’s happening, and often great.