2017 Presidential Theme: Boundary Conditions

Kwame Anthony Appiah, the 2017 MLA president, has chosen Boundary Conditions as the presidential theme for the 2017 convention, which will be held in Philadelphia. Boundary conditions are, for mathematicians, the parameters that define the space in which one seeks solutions. So the theme offers, first, an invitation to reflect together on the parameters that determine our work. Our boundary conditions are sometimes spatial, sometimes identitarian, sometimes disciplinary and subdisciplinary, and boundaries themselves are sites of artistic production and of scholarship. As students of language and literature increasingly cross national boundaries, physically and virtually, we face new questions about composition and critical analysis, second-language pedagogy, translation, and the ideas of global literature and transnational cultural studies. How do our new boundary conditions affect our understanding of the projects of literary and cultural studies? How do new forms of communication—online education, digital libraries, blogs, hypertext, machine translation, social media, and new tools of textual analysis—reshape the boundary conditions of our work? And how are these boundary conditions affected by the new material circumstances in our universities—the growth of the precariat, challenges from opponents of liberal education, clashing conceptions of freedom of expression? Visit the MLA Web site to post a call for papers for the 2017 convention.