MLA Cited in Article about Time-to-Degree Initiative

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.

Convention Program Proofs to Be Sent to Organizers

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.

What’s in a Number? MLA Commons Posts on Measuring the Humanities

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.

Competing for 2013 Publication Prize in Italian Literary Studies

The MLA Committee on Honors and Awards invites authors to compete for the association’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies. The prize, which has a 1 August deadline, is open to manuscripts that have been accepted for publication by not-for-profit presses that are members of the Association of American University Presses and to manuscripts that have not yet been accepted for publication. Detailed information is available online. You may also request information on any MLA prize by contacting the office of programs (

Edition of Sarah Robinson Scott Letters Receives CSE Seal

On 3 June 2013, the Committee on Scholarly Editions (CSE) awarded the CSE seal to The Letters of Sarah Scott, edited by Nicole Pohl, to be published by Pickering and Chatto.

The CSE serves as a clearinghouse for information about scholarly editing and editorial projects, offers advice and consultation to editors on request, honors excellence in editing by awarding emblems to qualified volumes, and promotes dissemination of reliable texts for classroom use and among general readers. Editors or publishers who wish to submit their editions (preferably before or at the copyediting stage) for consideration for the CSE seal should contact the committee at

MLA Responds to Report on the Humanities and Social Sciences

In articles in the New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed, the MLA’s executive director, Rosemary G. Feal, and its former president, Russell Berman, respond to a new American Academy of Arts and Sciences report on the humanities and social sciences. The report identifies challenges facing the humanities and social sciences, including decreased funding and skepticism about the economic value of these fields, and argues for the fields’ importance to the future of the United States. “At the very moment when China and some European nations are seeking to replicate our model of broad education in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences—as a stimulus to innovation and a source of social cohesion,” the report contends, “we are instead narrowing our focus and abandoning our sense of what education has been and should continue to be—our sense of what makes America great.”

Advocating Undergraduate Study of the Humanities

In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article (log-in required) about the release of three reports by Harvard University’s Arts and Humanities Division, Rosemary G. Feal, the executive director of the MLA, reaffirmed the value of a humanities education. The writing and analytic skills that humanities majors develop are highly desirable to employers, Feal said, and should not be overshadowed by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The article outlines Harvard’s strategies to bolster interest in the humanities through new introductory courses, an emphasis on humanities offerings during freshman orientation, and theme-based interdisciplinary programs.

Hundredth Web Site of the Week

The MLA International Bibliography has posted its hundredth Web site of the week on its MLA Commons blog. The feature highlights online resources for language, literature, and culture—from a University of North Carolina multimedia exhibit on country folk music to a database of book bindings in the British Library. The hundredth Web site of the week is Performing the Queen’s Men, a site that shares video of performances by the Shakespeare and the Queen’s Men Project as well as materials from the company’s production research. You can view more Web sites and other features like Teaching Tuesdays, Now Indexing, and Just for Fun on the bibliography’s Commons blog.

New Issue of PMLA

The March 2013 issue of PMLA, just mailed to MLA members, features five regular essays, on the Anglo-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, the pursuit of sovereignty in Norman Mailer’s The Fight, modernism and melodrama, Palestine in debates on postcolonial Maghrebi culture, and the European tradition of the invitation poem. The issue also includes a guest column by Julie Ellison on the new public humanities; a debate in Theories and Methodologies on Kenneth W. Warren’s study What Was African American Literature?; Alan Liu’s essay on the meaning of the digital humanities, for The Changing Profession; and four surprising discoveries in the series Criticism in Translation and Little-Known Documents.

Last Call for the 2013 ADE and ADFL Summer Seminars

In the next few days hotel reservations will close for the 2013 ADE Summer Seminar, 27–30 June, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Although the cutoff dates for guaranteed hotel reservations have passed for the joint ADE-ADFL seminar, 6–9 June, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and for the ADFL Summer Seminar, 18–21 June, in Houston, Texas, hotels for those seminars will try to accommodate new registrants. Chairs and other departmental representatives interested in attending a seminar this year will find complete programs and information about registration and hotel accommodations at the ADE and ADFL Web sites.