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Program Overview

Chicago Studies

Chicago Studies Advanced Graduate Program

Take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Chicago, choosing from courses on its history, literature, culture, or social characteristics. The emphasis will be not only on Chicago’s particular traits, but on this city’s place in a national and indeed global universe of great cities.

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About the Chicago Studies program

Chicago Studies Course Schedule

The Chicago Studies Course Schedule page provides you with detailed information on the program's offerings.

Chicago Studies Faculty

You can find a full listing of our instructors in this certificate program on the Chicago Studies Faculty page.

Admission for the Chicago Studies program

Applicants to this certificate program must hold a graduate degree from an accredited U.S. college, university or its foreign equivalent. A competitive graduate record that indicates strong academic ability is required. Work, internship, or research experience is highly desirable, but not a requirement. A list of admission requirements can be found on our Chicago Studies Admission page.

Chicago Studies Tuition

Tuition costs can vary for each of our programs. For the most up-to-date information on financial obligations, please visit our Chicago Studies Tuition page.

Chicago Studies Registration Information

Our Chicago Studies Registration Information page outlines important dates and deadlines as well as the process for adding and dropping courses.

Gainful Employment in Chicago Studies

Common questions and answers related to cost, financing and success in this certificate program are found on our Gainful Employment in Chicago Studies page.

Additional Information

The post-graduate certificate in Chicago Studies may be especially beneficial to educators, students who are thinking of going on to a PhD program, or anyone who wants to combine interdisciplinary methods with specific subjects. The coursework will:

  • Expose students to Northwestern University’s distinguished and world class instructors.
  • Provide students with countless opportunities to engage with others who are passionate to learn more about vitally important social and cultural issues through history, religion, philosophy, art, literature and film.
  • Prepare students for the intellectual demands of professional life by enriching students’ understanding of a broad array of social and cultural issues while improving their ability to analyze, write and complete research.
  • Sharpen analytical and writing abilities, which can help prepare students for application to PhD programs.

Applicants must possess a graduate degree in order to be considered for this program.

 

Find out more about Northwestern's Chicago Studies program

Chicago Studies Course Options

To complete this certificate, students may take any four courses available in the topic area (which may include courses available through The Graduate School). To satisfy the four units of credit required for the certificate, students also have the option to register for the following:

  • An independent study, which is a customized course of study undertaken by a single student under the guidance of an instructor. Denoted by the course number, 499, independent studies are comparable in their demands to other graduate-level courses.
  • A capstone project, which is an essay of 45 to 75 double-spaced pages written under the supervision of an approved faculty member. The project presents an opportunity to research and explore a topic thoroughly. Students often elect to expand a seminar paper from a previous course. Students who wish to pursue a capstone project must do so as their fourth and final course in the certificate program.

Students who did not previously study the humanities at the graduate level are strongly encouraged to take IPLS 410: Introduction to Cultural Analysis. This course introduces students to interdisciplinary cultural analysis through an intellectual history of critical theorists and thinkers. Through close reading, seminar discussion and presentations, students develop their critical analysis skills.

Please note that courses completed in the certificate program cannot be transferred to the corresponding graduate degree.

Core Courses:Course Detail
Introduction to Digital Studies <> IPLS 420-0

How do we better understand the conjuncture of digital technologies and the humanities? What kinds of thinking, research, teaching, politics, and cultural analysis can the digital enhance? How, in turn, do the fields that constitute the humanities (history, literary and language studies, philosophy, art history, musicology, cultural anthropology, media studies, etc.) offer guidance and grounding in today's wireless world? This course introduces students to the emerging field of critical digital studies, which looks at the intersection of digital technology and the humanities. Through a blending of weekly online engagements and three, Saturday afternoon face-to-face seminars, we address topics such as: what is the history of both the humanities and digital approaches to it as an interdisciplinary project? How can we address humanities questions today through new tactics of computational study found in informatics, statistical analysis, data visualization, and "big data" approaches? What new modes of publishing and scholarly communication do digital technologies make possible (multimedia presentation, podcasts, video, visualization, etc.)? How do we understand the ethics and politics of the digital world (surveillance, open source, net neutrality, sustainability, power)? Each week, students conduct readings and viewings, explore case studies, and complete online experiments. We pursue vigorous online discussion and convene in person for a seminar three times over the course of the quarter. Students pursue a final digital project in consultation with the instructor and in relation to individual interests and pursuits (graduate work, professional interests, digital humanities methodologies). Weekly topics include: digital annotation and database construction for close reading; "distant reading" tactics; digital mapping and timeline building; data and archives; network analysis; glitching and deformance for hermeneutic interpretation; and platforms and social media for humanities inquiry. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, Digital Studies, History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Literature, British Literature, Comparative and World Literature, Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course is required of MALS and COAGS students, specializing in Digital Studies. But any interested graduate student may take the course as an elective. Please note, this course is a hybrid which will meet in person on January 13, February 10, and March 17.)


View IPLS 420-0 Sections
Courses:Course Detail
Seminar II:Chicago Communities <> IPLS 402-0

Chicago is known both as a city of neighborhoods and as a city made up of multiple ethnic groups. This course explores both, and especially their intersection in local ethnic communities. It will look at the historical waves of immigration that built the city and compare that to current ethnic groups and the construction of today's local urban communities. We will explore issues of identity, inequality, and political economy surrounding ethnicity. Finally, we will locate these issues in the context of Chicago as a global city. (This course may count toward the American studies, history, and Chicago studies specializations.)


There is no available section.
Chicago Improv: Roots & Prac. <> IPLS 405-0

Chicago is home to a vibrant and nationally-recognized improv comedy scene, veterans of which can be seen all across the television and movie landscape. But what are the roots of that community and what explains the importance of Chicago to its past and present success? In this course, we will trace those roots back to Roman times and the theater of Comedia dell’arte. From there, we will skip forward to the particular influence of Chicago on improv, most importantly in the figures of Neva Boyd and her protege Viola Spolin. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to participate in various improv exercises, from the most basic to the more complex. As we will find, there is no reason to limit improv to the stage, so we will also examine how improv skills and techniques might be applied to various creative endeavors, including writing and filmmaking, and also such fields as business communications and education. The course will require, as noted, participation in a number of improv exercises, along with the completion of a mid-term paper and a final creative project. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, or History specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Black Chicago <> IPLS 492-0

This course surveys the major aesthetic, political, economic, social, and cultural developments of the African American population in the city of Chicago from its founding by Jean Baptiste du Sable, an African American man, to the present day. This course will consider the role of black Chicagoans in the 19th century, through the Civil War, Gilded Age, Progressive Era, World War I, Chicago Race Riot of 1919, World War I and the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement, the 1970s and 1980s up to the present day. Special emphasis will be placed upon the racial segregation of Chicago, the Black Panthers, and the relationship between the Black Chicago police and the Chicago Police Department. We will be also be exploring Black Chicago outside of the classroom. Analysis of primary source documentation of the African American press will be included in this course. (This course may  count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.This course may count towards the American Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs.  It may also count as an elective in the creative writing program.)


View IPLS 492-0 Sections
Defining Chicago <> IPLS 492-0

In this course, we will examine two parallel, though often intersecting, discourses which attempt to define Chicago: formal urban planning documents and literary representations of the city. From Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett’s 1909 Plan of Chicago onwards, Chicago powers-that-be have tried to transform the chaotic city into the City Beautiful (and/or the City Profitable) with formal planning documents, some aspects of which (when enacted by law) transform the cityscape itself. These documents demonstrate deep and complicated relationships between economic forces, political power, and human agency and identity. Meanwhile, Chicago’s poets and fiction writers shape our understanding of American identity in that same dynamic cityscape. In this course, we will examine planners as poets, and poets as planners to explore the evolution of Chicago from the early 20th Century to today. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


View IPLS 492-0 Sections
Race, Space & Place in Chicago <> LIT 492-0

Chicago is still the most segregated big city in America, and it has a long history of writers who represented its racial and ethnic conflicts. In this course, we will read and discuss the canon of Chicago’s African-American literary tradition, along with other writers who represent how American identity is shaped by the Chicago, by issues of access to space, and the freedom (or lack thereof) to move through the urban landscape.

Our texts will include: Gwendolyn Brooks, Selected Poems; Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun; Richard Wright, Native Son; James T. Farrell, Chicago Stories; Bill Granger, Time for Frankie Coolin; and Bruce Norris, Clybourne Park.

(This course may count towards the American Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs. )


There is no available section.
Chicago Transformed LIT 492-0

The only constant in Chicago history, and literature, is change. In this course, we will read and discuss more than a century's worth of textual explorations of fundamental shifts in Chicago's built environment, racial and ethnic identities, and literaary expressions. Who lives where? Who has power and who takes it? Who expresses the most important aspects of these transformations, and how do writers across generations agree and disagree? Our readings will include canonical and more obscure writers, from Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Nelson Algren to Bill Granger, Stuart Dybek, and Dan Sinker. (This course may count towards the  American Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


View LIT 492-0 Sections
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