At its meeting on 7 January in Philadelphia, the MLA Delegate Assembly voted on three regular resolutions and one emergency resolution. The assembly voted to move forward for consideration by the entire MLA membership a resolution to refrain from endorsing the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and an emergency resolution calling on the MLA to endorse the American Association of University Professors statement “Higher Education after the 2016 Election.”
The MLA Executive Council must now examine each resolution to determine if any constitutional, legal, or fiduciary issues are posed by its language. The council will then either forward the resolution(s) to the membership without modifications or with nonsubstantive modifications or determine that it is unable to forward the resolution(s) for reasons set forth in the MLA constitution.
If the council forwards one or both resolutions, all MLA members will be able to vote in 2017 after a monthlong commenting period. Resolutions must be ratified by a majority vote in which the number of those voting for ratification equals at least ten percent of the association’s membership.
MLA delegates did not approve a resolution to endorse a boycott of Israeli institutions. They voted to postpone a resolution to condemn attacks on academic freedom in Palestinian universities.
In a letter to MLA members, Rosemary G. Feal, the MLA’s executive director, expressed her appreciation for the thoughtful and engaged discussion leading up to the vote.
A longer summary of the Delegate Assembly meeting will appear in the Spring MLA Newsletter, and a complete report will be published in the May 2016 issue of PMLA.
Diana Taylor, the 2017–18 president of the MLA, has chosen #States of Insecurity as the presidential theme for the 2018 MLA Annual Convention in New York. Human beings have long lived, told stories, danced, cried, written, made art, learned, taught, debated, and theorized in moments of insecurity caused by events as varied as war, plague, famine, conquest, and enslavement. States of insecurity, in fact, have animated some of our most enduring cultural productions and informed our values. This theme invites reflection on how our intellectual, artistic, and pedagogical work helps us think through the crises of our time. What strategies do the humanities offer for navigating our current crises: political volatility, fluctuating financial markets, fear-mongering media, and increasingly hateful acts and rhetoric that contribute to a general sense of malaise? #States of Insecurity asks those in the academy to draw from their experiences to identify and denaturalize the elements that contribute to states of insecurity. How can faculty members, administrators, students, and staff members strengthen our institutions; reaffirm the value of open inquiry and dialogue; and secure academic access and freedom for all, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, class, and immigration status? We can begin by reexamining our own epistemologies, disciplines, technologies, and organizational and governing structures. What does the pursuit of knowledge mean when students are indebted and faculty members lack job security? How do we conduct research in a political and media climate in which facts don’t matter? The academy cannot be separate from the political, economic, and ideological turmoil of our time: #States of Insecurity calls on academia to uphold its role as a place of critical and historical reflection, inquiry, and intervention. To solicit contributions for a convention session that engages with this theme, you may post a call for papers on the MLA Web site until 28 February 2017. Session proposal forms for the 2018 convention will be available online by early March.
This year’s elections may be over, but there is still time for members to make suggestions for the executive committee elections to be held in 2017. Serving on an executive committee is an excellent way for members to become more involved in association activities, to create exciting programming for the annual convention, and to work on developing MLA Commons as a tool for scholarly and professional collaboration. When arranging their elections, the executive committees of the MLA’s forums depend on suggestions from members. To suggest yourself for executive committee service or to recommend a colleague, please fill out a brief online suggestion form by 19 December.
In February 2017 the Executive Council will make appointments to sixteen standing committees of the association. These committees and the outgoing committee members will be listed on the committee suggestion page through 9 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.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 MLA publication prize competitions. The publication prizes will be awarded in a ceremony on 7 January at the 2017 MLA Annual Convention in Philadelphia. The ceremony is open to the public and will be followed by a reception.
The deadline for submitting the online ballot (member log-in required) covering this year’s elections for second vice president, the Executive Council, the Delegate Assembly, and the forum executive committees is now only ten days away. Voting will close on Saturday, 10 December, at 12:00 midnight (EST). All members in good standing as of 10 November are eligible to vote. Be sure to vote before time runs out.
In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election in the United States, the MLA Executive Council has issued a statement reaffirming “in the strongest terms possible its commitment to free inquiry and academic freedom for all, unimpeded by acts of prejudice and hate.” Asserting the need to support those who are vulnerable, the statement recognizes the critical role of the humanities and humanistic knowledge, which “are now more essential than ever to help guide us in these difficult times.” The American Comparative Literature Association, the Modernist Studies Association, the Rhetoric Society of America, and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies have endorsed the MLA statement.
A few copies of the convention program (September PMLA) were missing pages. If your copy was affected, you may request a replacement by contacting email@example.com.
If you are a current member, you can now vote for second vice president, Executive Council members, Delegate Assembly members, and members of the convention forum executive committees. You may vote online (member log-in required) until 12:00 midnight (EST) on Saturday, 10 December. If you wish to exit the ballot system before you finish voting, your votes will be saved until your next session. To request a paper ballot, please e-mail the coordinator of governance by 16 November.
Have you ever wondered how you could become more involved in association activities? Would you like to expand your field’s boundaries by creating exciting programming for the annual convention? How about furthering the development of MLA Commons as a tool for scholarly and professional collaboration? Service on a forum executive committee allows members to pursue these opportunities. During the upcoming convention, each executive committee will nominate at least two members for the fall 2017 committee election; at least one of these names must be selected from a list of suggestions put forward by the membership. To suggest yourself for executive committee service or to recommend a colleague, please fill out a brief online suggestion form by 19 December.