From left to right: Hunter O’Hanian, the College Art Association’s executive director; Kathleen Fitzpatrick, the MLA’s associate executive director; and Morgan Brand, Senator Charles Schumer’s legislative aide. Photo: Nicholas Obourn
As part of its mission, the MLA regularly advocates for federal funding for the humanities in cooperation with other leaders in higher education. On 9 March 2017, the MLA’s director of programs, Dennis Looney, attended a series of meetings on Capitol Hill organized by the Coalition of International Education (CIE). Looney joined a group of international educators from institutions of higher education in New York to meet with staffers from the offices of Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Adriano Espaillat, as well as staffers from the office of Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. These meetings stressed the importance of the Department of Education’s international and foreign language education programs, and CIE specifically asked that the 2017 funding for Title VI and Fulbright-Hays be increased from $72 million to $78.5 million in 2018.
On 14 March 2017, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, the MLA’s associate executive director, took part in advocacy meetings organized by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) as part of Humanities Advocacy Day. With colleagues from the College Art Association, Fitzpatrick met with staffers from the offices of Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Grace Meng, Peter King, Eliot Engel, and Jerrold Nadler to thank them for their past support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and other related humanities programs and to encourage them to continue this support. The NHA is asking Congress to provide at least $155 million in 2018 for the NEH and to forcefully reject any efforts to eliminate the agency. Fitzpatrick also drew each staffer’s attention to the importance of the NEH-funded project Humanities Commons, which makes the work that humanities scholars do available in classrooms nationwide.
At the 2017 convention the Delegate Assembly approved two amendments to the MLA constitution and two resolutions. The assembly’s actions are not final, however, since they are subject to ratification by the MLA membership. Members are therefore encouraged to review this year’s ratification ballot and to exercise their right to vote. All members in good standing as of 17 April who were also members on 7 January, the date of the Delegate Assembly meeting, are eligible to vote. The online ballot is now available (member log-in required); requests for paper ballots must reach the coordinator of governance by Monday, 15 May. The deadline for receipt of ratification ballots is midnight (EDT) on 1 June.
The new administration’s proposed 2018 budget calls for the total elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In response, twenty-four past presidents of the MLA have created a petition asking Congress to support full funding for these critical institutions. From scholars and students to museum visitors and local theatergoers, millions of people across the country have benefited from NEH and NEA programs. As the petition’s authors note, the NEH and NEA represent the United States’ “core cultural values,” including “creative thought and action, humanistic inquiry, and knowledge preservation. It is vital to democracy to preserve the nation’s cultural heritage and to foster the creation of new ideas that can become groundbreaking works of the future.” To show your support for the NEH and NEA, sign the petition today.
The deadline to apply for a three-year field-bibliography fellowship from the MLA International Bibliography is approaching! MLA field bibliographers examine scholarly materials and submit citations and indexing information for the bibliography. Open to all MLA members, the 2017 fellowships will run from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2020.
The MLA provides materials and training and waives registration fees for fellows attending training sessions at the MLA convention. On completion of the fellowship, fellows receive a $500 stipend and a certificate at the convention awards ceremony. In addition to performing a valuable service for the profession, field bibliographers receive institutional recognition while enhancing their knowledge of the field and honing their research skills.
For more information and to submit an application, visit the MLA Bibliography Fellowships Web page.
At its meeting on 7 January 2017 in Philadelphia, the Delegate Assembly approved two resolutions that the Executive Council has forwarded to the membership for a ratification vote. Before the vote is conducted, MLA members are invited to comment on the resolutions on the MLA Web site (log-in required) until 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on 17 April. (Note: The ratification ballot will be available to those who were members on 7 January 2017, the date of the Delegate Assembly meeting, and whose membership is current as of 17 April.)
As commenting opens on two resolutions approved by the Delegate Assembly in January, the MLA Executive Council has issued a statement about the resolution process. At its February meeting the council reviewed the resolutions for any constitutional, legal, or fiduciary issues posed by the resolutions’ language and voted to forward the resolutions to the membership for a vote. Nevertheless, the Executive Council and the Delegate Assembly Organizing Committee (DAOC) recognize “that the current resolution process has begun to take up far more than a reasonable share of the organization’s resources, putting an undue burden on the MLA staff as well as on the members who volunteer their time to represent their colleagues on the Delegate Assembly, the DAOC, and the Executive Council.” In response, the council has established an ad hoc committee to examine the resolution process and the ways the MLA might speak out about matters of concern to members. Read the full council statement on the Executive Council blog.
Are you interested in participating in an MLA-sponsored excursion during the 2018 convention in New York City? If so, let us know if you have a specific suggestion or contact and which types of excursions you’d be interested in: art galleries or museums, libraries, science or natural history museums, food and wine tastings, or architecture tours. Post your preferences here by using the Leave a Reply button below, or send an e-mail to Stacey Courtney. Thank you for your feedback, and we look forward to seeing you in New York!
A new statement by the Executive Council denounces the 27 January executive order that temporarily bans citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, suspends all refugee admissions, and indefinitely bars the entry of Syrian refugees. The order has thrown lives into turmoil, undermined cultural exchange and academic freedom, and threatened core principles of the United States. Reaffirming its 2013 Statement on the Importance of Unrestricted Travel for Scholarly Exchange and the right to freedom of travel outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the MLA urges the Trump administration to rescind the order and “to pursue border and immigration policies that protect the open exchange of ideas and honor the dignity of all people.” Read the full statement.
Would you like to help choose the winners of the MLA’s publications prizes? The Committee on Honors and Awards makes appointments to the prize selection committees every spring. Members who would like to suggest themselves or other members for appointment to particular prize committees may do so by 28 February by sending a message to email@example.com. The following information should be included: name of the committee, name of the member suggested, affiliation, department, rank, field(s) of specialization, a short listing of professional activities and of books and major articles published, and a brief statement of the person’s qualifications. Members should consult the list of publication prize committees to determine expected vacancies. Please note that suggestions for appointments are not carried forward from year to year; they are compiled anew for each appointment cycle.
The Executive Council of the MLA has issued a statement condemning watch lists and blacklists, such as Canary Mission and Professor Watchlist, which “create opportunities for harassment and intimidation of those they name. By encouraging silence, they deprive scholars of academic freedom.” The statement reaffirms the MLA’s commitment to upholding “the rights of all its constituents to exercise their freedom to engage in political speech and nonviolent political action in the course of their work.”