The MLA is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $40,500 planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to begin the second phase of development of the association’s scholarly communication platform, MLA Commons. With support from the Mellon Foundation, the MLA will lead in the creation of Humanities Commons, a federated network of sites that will link the MLA with other humanities organizations to further collaborative interdisciplinary research. During the planning phase, the MLA will meet with other organizations to develop a governance structure and support model and will work with the Commons in a Box team from the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), and with developers to produce technical specifications for the new network.
The PMLA Editorial Board invites essays on literature in a diverse and multilingual world. The special issue will seek to provide a critical reflection on the diversity of both dominant and less-taught languages and of their spheres of use, to engage with the vernacular and the indigenous as critical categories, and to consider conceptual or thematic structures that invite literary studies to move outside the rubrics of nation, state, and national language. The coordinator of the special topic is Simon Gikandi (Princeton Univ.). The deadline for submissions is 3 November 2014. For a complete description of the topic and for submission guidelines, please see the MLA Web site.
A PDF of the Summer 2013 Job Information List, which includes both English and foreign language listings, is now available on the MLA Web site. The lists contain live links provided by advertisers as well as links to apply through Interfolio for positions that are still accepting applications. Anyone who applies for a position from the JIL will receive an Interfolio Dossier account at no cost. With an account, a job seeker can submit application letters and CVs electronically for free. More information about the dossier service is available in the JIL section of the MLA Web site.
Marianne Hirsch, president of the MLA, and Margaret Ferguson, first vice president of the MLA, have posted a letter to members about the status of their working group’s review of the association’s divisions and discussion groups. After receiving comments from executive committee members in the spring, the group has decided to pursue an approach that seeks “to create space for new fields while reiterating our commitment to the deep study of language and literature in their historical and cultural contexts, as well as to the protection of small fields.” The group will release a draft of its proposed revisions on MLA Commons in August to seek further feedback from the membership.
In September the House Appropriations Committee will consider significant cuts to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other programs valued by MLA members. As Congress continues to shape the federal budget for fiscal year 2014, we encourage you to monitor the funding of humanities programs and institutions at the National Humanities Alliance Web site and to write to your representatives to express support for the NEH and other programs that you care about. To learn more about what you can do to support the NEH, view the National Humanities Alliance’s “Six Steps to Oppose NEH Cuts.”
2013 members can now log in to the MLA Web site to renew their association membership for 2014, and former members can reinstate their membership. 2014 members receive discounted registration for the 2014 and 2015 conventions; five issues of PMLA and four issues of the MLA Newsletter; access to online resources, including the directory of members, MLA Commons, and the MLA Handbook Web site; and more. Find out about additional member benefits and what your dues support.
When the executive committees of the MLA’s divisions and discussion groups meet during the January 2014 convention in Chicago, they will take up the matter of nominations for the executive committee elections that will be held in fall 2014. Though the executive committees are responsible for making nominations, they are required to nominate at least one candidate who has been suggested by the wider MLA membership. Members are therefore encouraged to submit suggestions for the 2014 division and discussion group executive committee elections by filling out a brief suggestion form. Suggestions received by 23 December will be forwarded to the executive committees in time for their convention meetings.
A new Chronicle of Higher Education article (subscriber log-in required) spotlights a Brandeis University initiative to decrease the time to degree of PhD candidates by requiring commitment agreements from those granted selective one-year dissertation fellowships. The MLA’s executive director, Rosemary G. Feal, sees graduate programs developing “a network of approaches” to “create situations where students are supported” and notes the usefulness of explicit expectations and a regular structure for dissertation writers.
In the coming week, organizers of sessions at the 2014 MLA convention in Chicago will receive proofs of convention program copy, with information on the date and time of their sessions. The convention office encourages organizers to notify their participants immediately of this information so that participants can make their travel plans as soon as possible. Corrections to errors and responses to queries are due by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, 30 July. More information will be included in the e-mail messages sent to organizers.
In response to reports by a commission of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and by Harvard University, commentators have lamented, sought to explain, and challenged a purported decline in the number of humanities majors. A new post by the MLA’s director of research, David Laurence, addresses two flaws in a focus on the 7% figure cited as the percentage of 2010 college graduates who received a bachelor’s degree in the humanities, and Marianne Hirsch, the president of the association, identifies resources on the debate. We encourage members to comment on both posts and to provide links to additional resources.