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.