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Q&A With Maggie Schuster

June 5, 2020

Why did you choose the U of M?

A friend from high school had an uncle who graduated from the U of M's art history department and spoke highly of it. This convinced me to tour the campus that fall, which in my opinion is when U of M, and Minneapolis in general, looks most beautiful. I toured a few other colleges in Minneapolis that weekend, but the U was the only one that felt right.

What was your favorite class in the ARTH major?

It's tricky to narrow it down, but I fondly remember taking Pulp Fictions with Professor Robert Silberman. While my research focuses on early modern India, watching movies is a favorite pastime of mine. After taking that class, I began noticing references to film noir in some of my favorite movies, which makes watching even more fun.

Is there a professor who stood out to you?

Professor Emerita Catherine Asher was very important to my undergraduate journey. Her work has been influential to my research, and working with her on my capstone project was a formative experience that shaped the trajectory of my dissertation.

Where are you going to graduate school, and can you describe the research you are doing now?

Currently, I am a second year PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. My research focuses on Mughal architecture commissioned by royal women. Methodologically, I have been interested in social history and material culture as a way of disrupting the narrative of the emperor as sole contributor to artistic style.

How did your undergraduate degree prepare you for your graduate program?

I found the capstone project to be incredibly useful as I was able to get it published in an undergraduate journal and use it for my writing sample in my grad applications. When I received UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) funding to create an exhibition and symposium with my metal casting class, many of the art history faculty were extremely helpful in both the application writing process and throughout the course of the project. Finally, Professor Jennifer Marshall's grad school application boot camp was an invaluable source for applying to grad school.

What are your future plans or aspirations at this time?

I received a travel grant this semester, so I am hoping to spend a few weeks in Delhi studying Humayun's tomb as soon as it is safe to travel. I am looking forward to beginning my preliminary fieldwork.

This story is part of a larger article. Read more at The Dynamic Path to Academia.

This interview was conducted by a student in Backpack. Meet the team.