The Humanities Plunge

Humanities Plunge

Spring Break 2017 (March 20-March 24, 2017)


Music • Theatre • Dance • Architecture • History • Neighborhood Cultures • Art

Immerse yourself in Chicago’s rich cultural landscape with five days of theatre, art, music, architecture, and history, guided by expert scholars and artists!

Peek behind the scenes at major cultural institutions! Sample new foods in new neighborhoods! Discover plays, museums, performances and walking tours! This serious humanities course will be seriously FUN as you encounter the broad range of institutions and activities available just next door by exploring Chicago’s neighborhoods and cultural scene.

2017 Humanities Plunge

General Information

  • All Northwestern undergraduates are eligible to apply for the Humanities Plunge—all majors, years, and schools are welcome.
  • All costs associated with the program are covered by the Kaplan Humanities Scholars Program, including event tickets, transportation, and some meals; however, students are responsible for their own housing and for meals outside the hours of Humanities Plunge programming.
  • The Humanities Plunge will run from Monday, March 20-Friday, March 24, 2017. Participants are expected to attend ALL events and excursions during this time.
  • Students accepted into the Humanities Plunge are required to register for the course in Spring 2017, which is for ½ course credit and graded pass/no pass. There are no class meetings during spring quarter. However, in addition to three blog entries posted by each student during spring break, a short reflective paper will be due early in spring quarter.
  • Please note that tuition remains constant for students enrolled in 3.00 to 5.5 units of credit. Enrollment in more than 5.5 units of credit, overload enrollment, will result in additional tuition charges. See the Undergraduate Financial Aid website for information about tuition and financial aid for overload enrollment.
  • If you have any special needs or questions, or if you have individual concerns about registering for ½ course credit, please contact
  • Click for application instructions and deadline.


2016 Humanities Plunge 

Monday, March 21

  • Tour of Chicago by Chartered CTA ‘L’ train, with guide Paul Durica of Illinois Humanities & Pocket Guide to Hell
  • Garfield Park Conservatory
  • Lunch: Los Comales Taqueria #3 + Pilsen neighborhood exploration
  • Tour of The Plant (a collaborative community of agricultural and other food producing businesses in a repurposed meat packing plant)

Tuesday, March 22

  • Introduction to Commedia dell’Arte and the Viola Spolin Collection at the Northwestern Library Archives
  • Lunch: Reza’s Mediterranean and Persian Restaurant
  • The Second City improvisation workshop
  • Goose Island Brewpub with Goose Island history by one of the brewers
  • The Second City’s 104th Revue: Fool Me Twice, Déjà vu

Wednesday, March 23

  • Material history of the book presentation with Professor Jules Law
  • Letterpress and Bookbinding workshop at Spudnik Press
  • Dinner: Ethiopian Diamond
  •  “Writing, Reading, and Publishing in Chicago” reading and discussion with authors and live lit performers Megan Stielstra & Samantha Irby at Women & Children First bookstore

Thursday, March 24

  • Gallery visit with contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago exhibition Pop Art Design 
  • Al fresco lunch: Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches
  • Lookingglass Theatre Company: Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca + post-show discussion with members of the creative team

Friday, March 25

  • Tour the Rebuild Foundation
  • Stony Island Arts Bank archiving project  
  • Lunch: Currency Exchange Café
  • Washington Park Arts Incubator tour
  • Dinner: Gino’s East of Chicago
  • eighth blackbird concert Ghostlight with Bonnie “Prince” Billy at MCA


2015 Humanities Plunge  

Monday, March 23

  • Chicago Architecture Foundation walking tour “Chicago Old and New: Intersections”
  • Lunch at Reza’s (Middle Eastern) in Andersonville neighborhood
  • Music Box Theatre and It Follows film; post-film discussion with Nick Davis (English, Gender & Sexuality Studies)

Tuesday, March 24

  • “Histories of Botanical Illustration” with Environmental Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow Sheila Wille
  • Botanical drawing class at the Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Marie Antoinette at Steppenwolf Theatre; post-performance talk back with Derek Matson

Wednesday, March 25

  • Introduction to Commedia dell’Arte and the Viola Spolin Collection at the Northwestern Library Archives
  • The Second City workshop on fundamentals of improv comedy
  • Dinner at Ethiopian Diamond in Edgewater neighborhood
  • The Second City's 103rd Mainstage Revue

Thursday, March 26

  • Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Doris Salcedo Retrospective
  • Dinner at Francesca’s on Chestnut (Italian) in Streeterville neighborhood
  • "How To Get Power: The Seldoms Dance with LBJ and the 60s" with Michael Kramer (History)
  • Premier of "Power Goes" by the Chicago-based dance company The Seldoms at the MCA Main Stage

Friday, March 27

  • Lyric Opera Chicago behind-the-scenes tour and sneak peek of new mariachi opera El Pasado Nunca Se Termina
  • Dinner at Turquoise (Turkish) in Roscoe Village neighborhood
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra “Beyond the Score” production of Brahms Symphony No. 3