The volume Approaches to Teaching the Works of Colson Whitehead, edited by Stephanie Li, is now in development in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature. Instructors who have taught Colson Whitehead’s works are encouraged to contribute to the volume by completing a survey about their experiences. Information about proposing an essay is available at the end of the survey.
The MLA mourns the passing of Malcolm Smith, MLA trustee from 1988 to 2018 and an indispensable adviser to the organization’s staff for decades. Smith advised on the endowment and general financial matters and was praised for being a steady presence in hard times and an ambassador for the MLA at the many New York City institutions he helped to govern. Malcolm Smith attended Boston Latin School, graduated Dartmouth College summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and received an MA in economics from Harvard in 1948. He chose to forego an academic career in favor of joining the staff of General American Investors Company in 1948, and he spent his entire business career there, becoming president in 1959. In addition to serving as a trustee of the MLA, he was a trustee for The New School, Human Rights Watch, the John Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and many others. Smith and his wife, Betty, enjoyed international travel with an art history focus. They travelled the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, often with their family. Smith died on 16 August 2022 at age 99 and is survived by his wife of 74 years, his children, and his grandchildren.
The volume Teaching Energy Humanities, edited by Debby Rosenthal and Jason Molesky, is now in development in the MLA Options for Teaching series. To learn more about the volume and how to propose an essay, please visit the MLA website. Please send abstracts and CVs to the editors by 31 October 2022.
The Modern Language Association congratulates the 2022 MLA Bibliography fellows who will serve from 2022 to 2025. The MLA International Bibliography staff members work with approximately one hundred field bibliographers, from all parts of the world, who cover subject areas, journals, and languages that cannot be indexed in the New York office. Each spring, five to ten fellowships are awarded to field bibliographers who, on completion of their fellowships, receive a stipend of $500 and a certificate during the awards ceremony at the MLA convention. For more information on bibliography fellowships, please visit the MLA website or contact Chriselle Tidrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to the following:
- Amel Abbady, assistant professor of English, South Valley University, Egypt
- Kiyono Fujinaga-Gordon, independent scholar
- Grace Catherine Greiner, postdoctoral fellow and lecturer, University of Texas, Austin
- Yuemin He, professor of English, Northern Virginia Community College
- Kristene K. McClure, associate professor of English, Georgia Gwinnett College
- Shabana Sayeed, PhD candidate, Georgia State University
- Ron E. Scrogham, associate librarian, University of Dallas
- Daria Solodkaya, independent scholar
- Harismita Vaideswaran, MPhil graduate student, University of Delhi
- Shu Wan, PhD student in history, University at Buffalo, State University of New York
The MLA has just released new guidelines to help departments, institutions, and faculty members in languages and literatures value and assess public humanities work. Created by the MLA Ad Hoc Committee on Valuing the Public Humanities, the document seeks to acknowledge the importance of scholarship that reaches audiences beyond the university and that demonstrates the value of the humanities in the world. Providing a framework for those evaluating public humanities scholarship in hiring, tenure, and promotion contexts, the guidelines also raise key questions for those seeking to undertake public humanities work. Because public humanities scholarship often engages with communities, the guidelines put ethical concerns at their core, at the same time engaging with the fundamental questions that drive a peer-review process. We encourage you to read the guidelines and to consider these strategies for putting them to use:
- Use the guidelines to review your department or college bylaws regarding promotion and tenure and to identify gaps where public humanities scholarship might go undervalued or unidentified.
- Circulate the guidelines among faculty members and suggest the creation of a subcommittee reporting within promotion governance structures to draft an evaluation rubric for promotion and tenure that addresses public humanities scholarship informed by the “Guiding Questions for Assessing Public Humanities Scholarship.” How can such a rubric highlight how public humanities scholarship can further the core values of the department? How can this rubric help to advocate for faculty members?
- Review your hiring practices. Are there channels for job candidates to report public-facing work? Identify ways that your hiring process could inquire directly about or center public humanities scholarship. For program leaders: meet with faculty members to discuss what work they are involved in that does not easily fit within promotion requirements.
- Establish a peer-review network at your institution. Create opportunities for intra- and cross-institutional exchanges, including off-campus partnerships, where faculty members share their work, provide feedback, and foster connections using the prompts in the guidelines. Can these exchanges generate suggestions for external reviewers with knowledge bases in the public humanities who have successfully navigated processes for promotion? Can they facilitate ethical collaboration?
- Make spaces (virtual or physical) for faculty members to share and disseminate their work beyond the classroom or peer-reviewed journals, like a public humanities showcase. Find opportunities to celebrate and engage with work that might not otherwise be acknowledged in formal reviews.
- Find opportunities to involve students in ways that help make the case for valuing faculty advising, mentorship, and community-engaged and collaborative scholarship.
The MLA is deeply saddened by the passing of the Argentine writer, literary critic, translator, and teacher Sylvia Molloy, who was born in Buenos Aires in 1938 and died on 14 July 2022 in New York at the age of 83. She was well-known as one of the most influential scholars of Latin American literature and culture. Molloy graduated with her PhD in comparative literature from the Sorbonne in 1967. She was Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities Emerita at New York University, where she taught Latin American and comparative literatures and where she created the MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish, which was the first program of its kind in the United States. Molloy also taught at Yale University and Princeton University and was the first woman to gain tenure at Princeton. She was a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. Over the years, Molloy held a range of positions with the Modern Language Association, including serving on the PMLA Editorial Board (1988–92) and on the Executive Council (1994–97), before becoming president of the MLA in 2001. She was an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from New York University and was awarded the title Doctor Honoris Causa from Tulane University. Molloy was recognized for being one of the pioneers in addressing issues of LGBTQI+ culture in her literary works and in exploring autobiography as a genre. She wrote numerous novels, essays, and critical works, including Hispanisms and Homosexualities (1998, with Robert McKee Irwin); her first novel, En breve cárcel (1981), which became a queer-literature icon; Varia imaginación (2003); and many others.
The volume Options for Teaching Afro-Brazilian Literature in a Diasporic Context, edited by Cristina Ferreira Pinto-Bailey and Paulo Dutra, is now in development in the MLA Options for Teaching series. To learn more about the volume and how to propose an essay, please visit the MLA website. Please send abstracts and CVs to the editors by 30 September 2022.
Congratulations to the five MLA members who have been awarded 2022 Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellowships, which support early-career scholars in the humanities and interpretive social sciences in the final year of PhD dissertation writing. This program, which makes its sixteenth and final set of awards this year, is made possible by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.
Andy Alfonso, Princeton University
Alex Alston, Columbia University
Sophia Mo, Columbia University
Sarah Preston, University of Oregon
Joseph Wei, University of Virginia
Congratulations to the eleven MLA members among the winners of the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships announced in April 2022. Many of this year’s fellows’ projects directly respond to issues like climate change, pandemics, Russia, feminism, identity, and racism. Noting the impact of these annual grants, Edward Hirsch, President of the Guggenheim Foundation, said, “The work supported by the Foundation will aid in our collective effort to better understand the new world we’re in, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.”
Bénédicte Boisseron, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Field of study: Literary Criticism
Heather Clark, University of Huddersfield
Field of study: American Literature
Charlene M. Eska, Virginia Tech
Field of study: Medieval and Renaissance History
Stathis Gourgouris, Columbia University
Field of study: Literary Criticism
Daniel Hack, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Field of study: Literary Criticism
Yona Harvey, University of Pittsburgh
Field of study: Poetry
Jeffrey Masten, Northwestern University
Field of study: English Literature
Field of study: Translation
Paul Saint-Amour, University of Pennsylvania
Field of study: Literary Criticism
Esther Schor, Princeton University
Field of study: Intellectual and Cultural History
John Zilcosky, University of Toronto
Field of study: Literary Criticism
Congratulations to the twenty-one MLA members who are among the winners of the National Endowment for the Humanities grants announced in April 2022. Their projects include a curriculum integrating humanities and data science through experiential learning; research and writing leading to a book about the literary and cultural legacy of Bartolina Sisa, an Indigenous revolutionary woman in colonial Bolivia; a three-year project incorporating humanities content into preprofessional courses; and much more.
Elizabeth Alsop, City University of New York
Project Title: The Cinema of American Director Elaine May
Project Description: Writing leading to a book about film director Elaine May (1932–) and her four feature films, A New Leaf (1971), The Heartbreak Kid (1972), Mikey and Nicky (1976), and Ishtar (1987).
Sari Altschuler, Northeastern University
Project Title: Humanities and the Digital Future of Health and Healthcare
Project Description: A three-year project to implement a half major in digital health humanities.
Brooke Conti, Cleveland State University
Project Title: Religious Nostalgia from Shakespeare to Milton
Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book on religious nostalgia in English literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Tara Daly, Marquette University
Project Title: Back to the Future: Bartolina Sisa (d. 1782) and Living Indigenous Archives in Modern Day Bolivia
Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book about the literary and cultural legacy of Bartolina Sisa, an Indigenous revolutionary woman in colonial Bolivia.
Shannon Draucker, Siena College
Project Title: How Musical Science Shaped Representations of Gender and Sexuality in British Literature, 1850–1914
Project Description: Research and writing towards a book on Victorian authors’ understanding of music and musical science, 1850–1914.
Matylda Figlerowicz, Harvard University
Project Title: Becoming Lady Light: The Revolutions of Nahua Intellectual and Model Luz Jiménez
Project Description: Research leading to an intellectual biography of Luz Jiménez (1897–1965), an Indigenous model to artists and informant to anthropologists working in post-Revolutionary Mexico.
Jane Garrity, University of Colorado, Boulder
Project Title: Integrating Humanities and Data Science
Project Description: The development of eight new courses integrating humanities and data science through experiential learning.
Amanda Golden, New York Institute of Technology
Project Title: Editing the Poems of Sylvia Plath
Project Description: Research and writing an expanded, annotated edition of the collected poems of American author Sylvia Plath (1932–1963).
Lisa Hager, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Project Title: Transgender Victorians: Reconceptualizing Gender Identities in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture
Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book theorizing Victorian gender identities through literature and authorial biography.
Molly Hiro, University of Portland
Project Title: Core Humanities: Integration through Curriculum, Campus, and Community
Project Description: Planning for the creation of new interdisciplinary Core courses and for a humanities hub to serve as the home of the new curriculum.
Ashton Lazarus, University of Utah
Project Title: Sensation and Renunciation in The Tale of Genji
Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book on the Japanese literary classic The Tale of Genji (c. 1011), focusing on the tension between the allure of sensory experience and Buddhist distrust of the senses.
Joseph Mansky, University of Oklahoma
Project Title: Plays, Libels, and the Public Sphere in Shakespeare’s England
Project Description: Research and writing towards a book on the use of libels on the English stage in the 1590s.
Shaun Myers, University of Pittsburgh
Project Title: Black Anaesthetics: African American Narrative beyond Man
Project Description: Research and writing of one chapter of a book on Black women writers and the techniques they used to obscure blackness in the 1970s and 1980s.
Sarah Noonan, Saint Mary’s College, IN
Project Title: Launching a Digital and Public Humanities Minor
Project Description: The development of an interdisciplinary minor in digital and public humanities.
Jessica Richard, Wake Forest University
Project Title: Maria Edgeworth Letters
Project Description: Planning for the creation of a fully searchable corpus of Maria Edgeworth’s letters through crowdsourced transcription, expert annotation, and TEI encoding. Her letters are held at twenty-six libraries across the United States and United Kingdom, and this would be the first effort to unite them digitally.
Andrew Rusnak, Community College of Baltimore County, Essex
Project Title: Contextualizing Humanities Education for All
Project Description: A three-year project incorporating humanities content into preprofessional courses.
Emily Rutter, Ball State University
Project Title: White Allyship in Contemporary Black Media
Project Description: Research and writing of a book about the ways in which directors and screenwriters centralize complex Black protagonists while also training the gaze on would-be white allies.
Alexandra Valint, University of Southern Mississippi
Project Title: Wheelchairs, Crutches, and Disability in Victorian Literature
Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book on prosthetics and mobility aids in Victorian literature.
Leslie Werden, Sioux City Morningside University
Project Title: Rooted: Integrated Humanities and Agriculture
Project Description: A three-year project to implement an agricultural humanities minor.
Ashley Williard, University of South Carolina, Columbia
Project Title: Disruptive Minds: Madness in the Early French Atlantic
Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book exploring seventeenth- and eighteenth-century conceptions of madness in France and its Atlantic colonies.
Adrian Wisnicki, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Project Title: COVE: Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education
Project Description: Development of the Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education (COVE) with three areas of focus: implementation of more robust data standards for long-term use; expansion of content with over eighty titles concentrating especially on noncanonical and global literatures; and enhancements of the COVE website to facilitate pedagogically focused digital humanities work with literary texts.