Contribute to an MLA Approaches Volume on Sherlock Holmes Stories

The volume Approaches to Teaching Sherlock Holmes Stories, edited by Tom Ue, is now in development in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature. Instructors who have taught works that feature Sherlock Holmes 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.

J. Hillis Miller, Former President of the MLA, 1928–2021

Portrait of J. Hillis Miller

Photo by Jeremy Maryott

The MLA is deeply saddened by the passing of J. Hillis Miller, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Comparative Literature and English at the University of California, Irvine. Born in 1928 in Newport News, Virginia, Miller received his BA from Oberlin College in 1948 and his PhD from Harvard University in 1952. His dissertation, The Symbolic Imagery of Charles Dickens, was the basis of his first book, Charles Dickens: The World of His Novels (1958). Miller taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1952 to 1972 before taking a position at Yale University, where, along with colleagues Paul De Man and Geoffrey Hartman, he was a foremost proponent of the Yale school of deconstruction. After fourteen years at Yale, Miller headed west to the University of California, Irvine, where he spent the remainder of his career. A consummate scholar with a remarkable range of interests, Miller published on Victorian literature and poetry, twentieth-century literature, deconstruction, phenomenology, and psychoanalysis, among other topics. His notable 1986 presidential address to the MLA defended literary theory and deconstruction against criticisms from the right and the left. Miller was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society. In 2005 the MLA recognized his considerable accomplishments with its Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement.

MLA Members Receive 2020 NEH Grants

Congratulations to the twenty MLA members who are among the winners of the National Endowment for the Humanities grants announced in December 2020. Their projects include a study of how digital methods in the humanities may reflect racial biases, a book about the influence of blindness on the writing of John Milton, the establishment of a digital humanities center at San Jose State University, and much more.

Hilary Binda, Tufts University

Project Title: Civic Humanities and Decarceration

Project Description: Course revision and curriculum development in civic studies and in programs for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students.

Marlene Daut, University of Virginia

Project Title: Awakening the Ashes: An Intellectual History of Haiti

Project Description: Research and writing leading to an intellectual history of Haiti from 1804 to the 1950s.

Megan DeVirgilis, Morgan State University

Project Title: The Female Vampire in Hispanic Short Fiction at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: A Critical Anthology

Project Description: Writing and translation activities culminating in a critical anthology of Latin American short stories exhibiting Gothic aesthetics.

Amrita Dhar, Ohio State University, Columbus

Project Title: John Milton’s Blind Language

Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book on the influence of blindness on the writing of English author John Milton (1608–74).

Aparna Dharwadker, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Project Title: “Alternative Modernities” and the Modernization of Urban Theatre in India

Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book about urban theater and modernity in colonial and postcolonial India, from 1850 to the present.

Amy Earhart, Texas A&M University, College Station

Project Title: Digital Humanities and the Infrastructures of Race in African American Literature

Project Description: Research and preparation of a digital publication studying how digital tools and methods employed for literature studies may reflect biases built into the technological infrastructure.

Tara Fickle, University of Oregon

Project Title: Behind Aiiieeeee!: A New History of Asian American Literature

Project Description: Research, writing, and digital development of a book examining the publication history of the first anthology of Asian American literature, Aiiieeeee!

Teresa Fiore, Montclair State University

Project Title: Memoria Presente: The Common Spanish Legacy in Italian and Latin American Cultures

Project Description: A course revision project resulting in a digital repository of materials to facilitate cultural comparison in Italian language instruction for Spanish speakers and oral testimonies of Italian-Latino/a bicultural identity.

Michael Hill, William and Mary

Project Title: Reading Distance: Chinese and Arabic Literatures at the End of Empire, 1850–1950

Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book on the connections between intellectual “enlightenment” in China and Nahda (i.e., awakening) in the Middle East from the nineteenth to the first half of the twentieth century.

Neil Hultgren, California State University, Long Beach

Foundation Project Title: The Universe in British Fiction, 1885–1930

Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book on British speculative fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Ann Kibbie, Bowdoin College

Project Title: Obstetrics and the Disabled Maternal Body in Nineteenth-Century Great Britain

Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book on the medical dilemmas of treating pregnant women in Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Jinah Kim, California State University, Northridge

Project Title: Against Forgetting: Memory, Care, and Feminist Arts across the Transpacific

Project Description: Writing resulting in a book-length study of Korean diasporic practices memorializing the “Comfort Woman” experience.

Rachael King, University of California, Santa Barbara

Project Title: Hidden Archives: Race, Gender, and Religion in UCSB’s Ballitore Collection

Project Description: A two-year project on the digitization and examination of abolitionist materials to be included in experiential learning and curriculum development.

Lakshmi Krishnan, Georgetown University

Project Title: The Doctor and the Detective: A Cultural History of Diagnosis

Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book on the intersection of medical diagnoses and detective literature in England, France, and the United States from the nineteenth century to mid–twentieth century.

Eduardo Ledesma, University of Illinois, Urbana

Project Title: Visually Impaired Filmmakers and Technologies of Sight

Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book about visually impaired filmmakers and the experience of blindness through film.

Annete Lienau, Harvard University

Project Title: Sacred Language, Vernacular Difference, and Counter-Imperial Writing from the Arabophone to the Asian-African (Nineteenth–Twentieth Centuries)

Project Description: Research and writing leading to a book on how Arabic became a counter-imperial and transregional language that connected African and Asian in the nineteenth–twentieth centuries.

Matthew Miller, University of Maryland, College Park

Project Title: Automatic Collation for Diversifying Corpora: Improving Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) for Arabic-Script Manuscripts

Project Description: Refinement of machine learning methods to improve automatic handwritten text recognition of Persian and Arabic manuscripts and make these sources more accessible for humanities research and teaching.

Renata Miller, CUNY Research Foundation, City College

Project Title: Building a Digital Humanities Minor at the City College of New York Project Description: A three-year initiative to develop and pilot a minor in digital humanities at City College, to be housed in the Division of Humanities and the Arts.

Shannon Miller, San Jose State University

Project Title: Grounding the Digital Humanities at San Jose State University

Project Description: Establishment of a Digital Humanities (DH) Center at San Jose State University’s (SJSU) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, including the installation of a virtual machine and computing node to expand the current digital infrastructure. The DH Center will serve both SJSU students and the San Jose community.

Melanie Walsh, Cornell University

Project Title: Anticipating the Reception of Contemporary NLP in Digital Humanities

Project Description: The development of an open-source toolkit and workshop series that will begin to address these fundamental barriers to the adoption of BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) by humanities scholars interested in large-scale text analysis.

Apply for an MLA Bibliography Fellowship by 1 April 2021

The MLA International Bibliography is accepting applications for three-year field-bibliography fellowships. MLA field bibliographers examine scholarly materials and submit bibliographic and indexing information for citations in the bibliography. Open to all MLA members, including graduate students, the 2021 fellowships will run from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024.

Field bibliographers perform a valuable service for the profession and receive institutional recognition while deepening their knowledge of the field as well as their research skills. 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.

For more information and to submit an application, visit the MLA Bibliography Fellowships page. Applications are due 1 April 2021.

Brent Hayes Edwards Named PMLA Editor

Portrait of Brent Hayes EdwardsAt its October meeting, the MLA Executive Council appointed Brent Hayes Edwards, Peng Family Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, to serve as the next editor of PMLA. His term begins in July 2021 and runs for three years. Edwards’s research and teaching focus on topics including African American literature, francophone literature, theories of the African diaspora, translation studies, archive theory, black radical historiography, cultural politics in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, surrealism, experimental poetics, and jazz. He is the author of the award-winning books Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination (2017) and The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (2003) and has published scholarly editions of Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom, Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo, W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, and (in collaboration with Jean-Christophe Cloutier) Claude McKay’s Amiable with Big Teeth. Edwards has translated work by writers including Edouard Glissant, Aimé Césaire, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Sony Labou Tansi, Monchoachi, and Michel Leiris. He served as coeditor of the journal Social Text from 2001 to 2011, and in 2012 he was named the Harlem Renaissance period editor for The Norton Anthology of African American Literature.

MLA Executive Director Paula M. Krebs remarks that Edwards brings to the position “a wide range of scholarly interests, from literature and theory to popular culture and diaspora studies. His journal editing experience and history of collaborative work make him the ideal editor for PMLA at this important time in the journal’s history.” Says Edwards, “I am honored and excited to serve as editor of PMLA, given its longstanding centrality to the field and its crucial role as an incubator for new scholarship. I look forward to working with the extraordinary staff and with colleagues on the Editorial Board to shape this new chapter in the history of the journal.”

Edwards will be the ninth editor of PMLA, succeeding Wai Chee Dimock, who has been editor since July 2016.

2022 Presidential Theme: Multilingual US

Barbara Fuchs, the 2021–22 president of the MLA, has chosen Multilingual US as the presidential theme for the 2022 MLA Annual Conven­tion in Washington, DC.

The MLA can play a crucial role in imagining and supporting a linguistically diverse commons, to make language a tool of inclusion rather than exclusion. For those who care about the humanities, exploring and promoting multilingualism is one of the most significant contributions we can make to a diverse public sphere. At the same time, reconstructing multilingual roots productively complicates the history of the nation-state—particularly for the United States but also for many other polities, especially settler nations whose indigenous and interimperial pasts have been occluded. Our theme for the year is thus contemporary and historical—an invitation to highlight the importance of contemporary multilingualism, while attending to the complex histories and erasures that have led to our present condition.

Multilingualism occurs in many spaces, both within and beyond the university. In keeping with the admirable recent focus of the MLA on the public humanities, I want to emphasize not just scholarly and pedagogical practices of multilingualism but the ways that MLA members can support a rich ecology of languages in their communities as in their institutions. How can our expertise promote multilingualism across civic spaces—in schools, in public libraries, and in cultural, political, and artistic arenas? How do we make room for linguistic diversity not as an accommodation but as a constitutive feature of the commons?

Sessions for the convention may wish to focus on language justice; multilingualism in poetry, theater, and other forms; strategies for multilingual access in various settings; multilingualism and the public, urban, and digital humanities; multilingual medical humanities; multilingualism and history; pedagogic approaches to multilingualism, including at the K–12 level; translation, interpretation, and activism; bilingual education; multilingual approaches to national literatures; preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages; sign languages and embodied communication; scholarly collaborations across languages and disciplines; public humanities projects that engage multiple languages; and more.

Visit the MLA website to post a call for papers for the 2022 convention.

ADE and ADFL Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to Stacey Lee Donohue, who will receive the Association of Departments of English’s Francis Andrew March Award, and to Pauline R. Yu, who will receive the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages’ Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession. Donohue, a professor of English at Central Oregon Community College, has served as president of the ADE and on numerous MLA committees and working groups. Yu served as president of the American Council of Learned Societies from 2003 to 2019, where she worked to promote the humanities and the study of world languages and cultures. The awards will be presented to Donohue and Yu during the MLA Awards Ceremony, which will take place on 9 January.

Photo of Pauline R. Yu

Pauline R. Yu

Photo of Stacey Lee Donohue

Stacey Lee Donohue

Contribute to an MLA Approaches Volume on the Works of Benito Pérez Galdós

The volume Approaches to Teaching the Works of Benito Pérez Galdós, edited by Liana Ewald, David George, and Wan Tang, is now in development in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature. Instructors who have taught Galdós’s 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.

Theodore Ziolkowski, Former President of the MLA, 1932–2020

The MLA mourns the passing of Theodore Ziolkowski, former president of the MLA and Class of 1900 Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. Ziolkowski was a renowned Germanist and comparatist, a prolific author, a musician, and an athlete. He was born into a multilingual family in Alabama in 1932 and exhibited precocious scholastic abilities, earning his bachelor’s degree from Duke University in 1951 at the age of eighteen and his master’s degree, also from Duke, one year later. Alongside his academic achievements, he was a formidable football player and an accomplished jazz trumpeter, playing music professionally into his early thirties. He received his PhD from Yale University in 1957 before teaching briefly at Columbia University and then at Princeton, where he spent the majority of his career. He was the author of dozens of scholarly tomes on German and comparative literature, including Dimensions of the Modern Novel: German Texts and European Contexts (1969) and Virgil and the Moderns (1993). His book Fictional Transfigurations of Jesus received the National Book Award in 1972, as well as the MLA’s prestigious James Russell Lowell Prize. He served as president of the MLA in 1985.