Contribute to an MLA Approaches Volume on the Epic of Gilgamesh

The volume Approaches to Teaching the Epic of Gilgamesh, edited by David Damrosch and Sophus Helle, is now in development in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature. Instructors who have taught this work 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.

Contribute to an MLA Approaches Volume on Teaching the Sonnet

The volume Approaches to Teaching the Sonnet, edited by Joshua Reid, is now in development in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature. Instructors who have taught the sonnet 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.

Upcoming Deadlines for MLA Publication Prizes

The MLA Committee on Honors and Awards invites authors and editors to compete for the association’s publication awards. The James Russell Lowell Prize and the MLA Prize for a First Book have a 1 March deadline, and there are three prizes with a 1 April deadline. Information on all the annual and biennial MLA prizes, their deadlines, and the submission process is available online. You may also request detailed information on individual MLA prizes by contacting the office of programs (awards@mla.org).

Contribute to an MLA Approaches Volume on Teaching Dickinson’s Poetry

The volume Approaches to Teaching Dickinson’s Poetry, second edition, edited by Martha Nell Smith, is now in development in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature. Instructors who have taught these 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.

2020 Presidential Theme: Being Human

Simon Gikandi, the 2019–20 president of the MLA, has chosen Being Human as the presidential theme for the 2020 MLA Annual Conven­tion in Seattle.

The theme invites members to reflect on the role of literature and language in defining the nature of the human in the face of what appears to be its diminishment and to provoke debates on the role of the humanities in a changing world. What has been the role of the creative imagination in marking out the social spaces of what we call humanity? How has literature been called upon to bear witnesses to both the possibility and limits of the human in the modern world? How has the human condition been thought and written about in diverse historical periods and geographic spaces? Can literature and its criticism continue to inspire the desire for human freedom in an age of intolerance? What is the role of a diverse community of writers and readers in the thinking of the world and our relation to it?

Members are encouraged to think about these questions from the greatest range of perspectives possible—ethics and ethnicity, linguistics and literary history, environmental studies, gender and sexuality studies, queer theory, criticism, writing, composition studies, pedagogy, public culture, and civic engagement. In addition to the main theme, panels can be imagined in a number of clusters and subthemes: defining the human, literature and human rights, citizenship and belonging, technology and the new media, encounters in the classroom and workplace, and the public sphere.

Visit the MLA Web site to post a call for papers for the 2020 convention.

MLA Awarded Million-Dollar Mellon Grant to Support Teaching at Community Colleges

The MLA is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a grant of one million dollars by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to strengthen the teaching of English at access-oriented institutions (AOIs). Between 2019 and 2021, the association will organize nine regional summer institutes for those who teach at AOIs and those who would like to make their teaching careers at them.

Over the next three years, the grant will allow 144 doctoral students and instructors at AOIs (community colleges and other colleges that prioritize access over selectivity in admissions) to participate in weeklong summer institutes in different regions of the United States, conduct pedagogical research projects the following semester, and present their work at an MLA Annual Convention. Two MLA Teaching Institutes will be held in 2019, three in 2020, and four in 2021. Graduates from the program will be awarded an MLA Certificate in Reading-Writing Pedagogy at Access-Oriented Institutions.

The MLA Teaching Institutes are part of the MLA’s efforts to develop regional professional-development programming and to promote the humanities at institutions that prioritize access. AOIs enroll many first-generation college students, Pell Grant recipients, and students of color—groups that are often discouraged from pursuing the humanities.

The first of the Mellon Foundation–funded institutes will take place in the summer of 2019 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the University of Washington, Seattle. The instructors will be Stacey Donohue, professor of English at Central Oregon Community College and the former president of the Association of Departments of English; Howard Tinberg, professor of English at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts; and Nicole Wallack, senior lecturer-in-discipline in English and comparative literature and director of the Undergraduate Writing Program at Columbia University.

The planning for the creation of the MLA Teaching Institutes was supported by a grant from the Teagle Foundation, awarded in March 2018.

MLA Members Receive 2018 NEH Grants

Congratulations to the twenty-two MLA members who are among the winners of National Endowment for the Humanities grants announced in December 2018. The projects recognized include a book-length study on how United States technology companies and the Chinese government are changing global relationships and a project to digitize the archives of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association, an important early African American literary and cultural society.

Digital Projects for the Public: Discovery Grants

Deanna Shemek, University of California, Santa Cruz

Project title: Virtual Studiolo

Project description: The design and production of a 3-D environment re-creating Isabella d’Este of Mantua’s (1474–1539) art and music “studiolo” for use with virtual reality headsets, laptops, and visualization walls.

Jonathan Zwicker, University of California, Berkeley

Project title: Tokyo’s Long Nineteenth Century: A Cultural Atlas of the City, 1787–1923

Project description: Development of an online cultural atlas of the city of Edo/Tokyo in the years 1787–1923.

Fellowships

Angela Bennett, University of Nevada, Reno

Project title: Manuscript Orientations: Mediation, Meditation, and the Movements of Piers Plowman

Project description: Preparation of a digital publication that compares and analyzes the over fifty manuscript versions of the Middle English poem Piers Plowman (c. 1370–90).

Hall Bjornstad, Indiana University, Bloomington

Project title: The Crowning Example: Louis XIV and the Crisis of Royal Exemplarity

Project description: Research and writing leading to publication of a book on the French king Louis XIV (1638–1715), showing how the concept of absolute monarchy gave way to the modern understanding of the individual and of individual rights.

Martha Cutter, University of Connecticut, Storrs

Project title: The Lives and Afterlives of Henry Box Brown, the Slave Who Mailed Himself to Freedom

Project description: Completion of a book-length study on the life and abolitionist legacy of the nineteenth-century performer and slave Henry Box Brown (d. 1897).

Scott Herring, Indiana University, Bloomington

Project title: The Aging of American Modernism

Project description: Completion of a book-length study on American modernism and the late-life work of prominent avant-garde figures Djuna Barnes (1892–1982), Tillie Olsen (1912–2007), and Charles Henri Ford (1908–2002); and lesser-known figures Samuel M. Steward (1909–93), Ivan Albright (1897–1983) and Mabel Hampton (1902–89).

Nathalie Hester, University of Oregon

Project title: Inventing America in Baroque Italy: Columbus, Vespucci, and New World Epic

Project description: Research and writing leading to publication of a book on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italian epic poems about the Spanish conquest of the Americas.

Aynne Kokas, University of Virginia

Project title: Border Patrol on the Digital Frontier: China, the United States, and the Global War over Data

Project description: Research and writing leading to a book-length study on how United States technology companies and the Chinese government are changing the global relationships among individuals, governments, and markets.

Josephine Lee, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Project title: Blackface and Yellowface: American Theater and Racial Performance

Project description: Research and writing of a book-length study on the relationship between yellowface and blackface acting and representation in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American theater.

Michael LeMahieu, Clemson University

Project title: Reconstructing Civil War Memory in American Literature after Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Project description: Completion of a book-length study on literary representations of the Civil War after Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

L. Lerner, Franklin and Marshall College

Project title: Italy Out of the Ghetto: A Catholic Nation in the Jewish Mirror, 1789–1910

Project description: Writing leading to the publication of a book-length study of the role religion and politics played in the formation of Italian national identity in the nineteenth century.

Sarah McKibben, University of Notre Dame

Project title: Tradition Transformed: Bardic Poetry and Colonialism in Early Modern Ireland, 1560–1660

Project description: Completion of a book-length study on Irish bardic poetry and British colonialism in Early Modern Ireland.

Anne-Helene Miller, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Project title: The Formation of a Francophone Identity in Fourteenth-Century Literature

Project description: Research and writing leading to publication of a book on the development of fourteenth-century French literary culture.

Elizabeth Miller, University of California, Davis

Project title: Mining, Ecology, and Literature, 1830–1930

Project description: Research and writing leading to a book-length study of mining and extraction in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century literature.

Whitney Trettien, University of Pennsylvania

Project title: A New History of the Book in Seventeenth-Century England

Project description: Preparation of a digital publication analyzing seventeenth-century English books that were assembled from texts and images of other printed sources.

Travis Wilds, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Project title: Empire of Exactitude: Life, Literature, and the Physical Sciences in Post-Enlightenment Paris

Project description: Writing leading to the publication of an intellectual history of how the sciences triumphed over the humanities in the Paris academy (1780 to 1815).

Humanities Initiatives: HBCUs

Dana Williams, Howard University

Project title: Reviving the Bethel Literary and Historical Association in the Twenty-First Century

Project description: A project to digitize the archives of an important early African American literary and cultural society and to carry forward its legacy through interdisciplinary public lectures and forums.

Sherida Yoder, Felician University

Project title: Interdisciplinary Humanities Program on the History and Culture of Paterson

Project description: The development of an interdisciplinary and place-based humanities minor that focuses on the writers, musicians, and artists of Paterson, New Jersey.

Awards for Faculty

Nathaniel Cadle, Florida International University

Project title: American Literature, the Romantic Revival, and the Rise of Modernism

Project description: Preparation for publication of a book about the relationship between United States literary modernism and the Romantic Revival (c. 1880–1920), with consideration of works by Edith Wharton, Henry James, and W. E. B. Du Bois.

Cooperative Agreements and Special Projects (Challenge Grants)

Holly McBee, Dickinson State University

Project title: Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program Endowed Chair at Dickinson State University

Project description: An endowed chair of the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program at Dickinson State University.

Common Heritage

Rhondda Thomas, Clemson University

Project title: Digitizing African-American Heritage in the Greater Clemson, South Carolina, Community

Project description: A two-day digitization event to collect materials regarding the underdocumented contributions and stories of African Americans at Clemson University and from the surrounding community.

Rachel Price, Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound

Project title: Digital Video Rescue

Project description: The development of procedures and tools designed for the preservation of digital video (DV) recordings, a highly fragile format used widely in the mid-1990s through 2000s, documenting local heritage, oral histories, arts performances and a variety of other cultural events and activities.

Suggesting Members for Committee Appointments

In February 2019 the Executive Council will make appointments to seventeen standing committees of the association. These committees and the outgoing committee members will be listed on the committee suggestion page through 4 February, the deadline for making a suggestion. To suggest yourself or another member of the association for a committee, respond to the three prompts on the suggestion page and then complete the short information form. Please note that suggestions for appointments are not carried forward from year to year; they are compiled anew for each appointment cycle.

Winners of New MLA Grant Programs Announced

The MLA launched two new grant programs in 2018 to promote innovative teaching projects and enhance career development opportunities for part-time faculty members. Both grants are funded by the MLA fund-raising campaign Paving the Way: For the Future.

MLA Humanities Innovation Course Development Grant

The winning projects include an undergraduate general education course that draws on the multidisciplinary expertise of black studies faculty members and a course in which students will gather oral histories of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.

Congratulations to the following:

Ricia Chansky, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Project title: “Puerto Rican Lives after the Hurricane”

Jennifer Gipson and Gilles Bousquet, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Project title: “Intelligence Ex Machina? Machine/Human Interactions in Film, Literature, and Culture from the French Revolution to the Age of AI”

Maria Lima and Lytton Smith, State University of New York, Geneseo

Project title: “HUMN 222: Black Humanities”

Irina Gendelman and Jeff Birkenstein, Saint Martin’s University

Project title: “From the Beginning: Indigenous Storytelling of Food and Medicine”

Katherine G. Trostel and Elizabeth Kavran, Ursuline College

Project title: “From Rustbelt to Revival: Exploring the Legacy of Segregation, Inequality, and Social Justice in Cleveland through the Lens of the Anisfield-Wolf Canon”

For more information on the Humanities Innovation Course Development Grant, visit the MLA Web site early next year.

Professional Development Grant for Part-Time Faculty Members

“It is simple but really makes a difference,” as one applicant described the MLA’s new professional development grant program. Faculty members who earn the majority of their income from teaching part-time at a college or university are eligible for these $1,000 grants, which may be used for technology purchases, continuing education, research or conference travel, and other expenses related to career development.

The first group of winners will use the grants for conducting research at an archive, purchasing a laptop needed for online teaching, and presenting at the MLA International Symposium in Lisbon. We are pleased to congratulate the twelve winners:

  • Vincent Adiutori (Chicago, IL), research travel
  • Jessie Casteel (Houston, TX), conference travel
  • Sarah Coluccio (Flushing, NY), research travel
  • David Copenhafer (Brooklyn, NY), open-access publication of the author’s scholarship
  • Eda Dedebas Dundar (Kirkland, WA), technology purchase
  • Shu-Ting Kao (Taipei City, Taiwan), conference travel
  • Michelle Sharp (Eagan, MN), conference travel
  • Maria Stracke (Philadelphia, PA), professional training or certification
  • Monroe Street (Brooklyn, NY), professional training or certification
  • Leah Van Vaerenewyck (Wrentham, MA), conference travel
  • Graydon Wetzler (La Jolla, CA), conference travel
  • Christine Woody (Ridgewood, NY), technology purchase

Find out how to apply for the next Professional Development Grant for Part-Time Faculty Members grant cycle.