The MLA is pleased to announce that Angela Gibson has been named the new director of scholarly communication. In this role, Gibson will oversee MLA’s periodical and book publications, book acquisitions, and digital initiatives. This includes expanding the array of educational and editorial resources available at The MLA Style Center; enriching the MLA’s open-access resources, including CORE and MLA Commons; and making tools for research and collaboration available to students and teachers at all levels.
Gibson holds a PhD in English from the University of Rochester, where she focused on medieval literature. She has worked at the MLA since 2001, most recently as associate director of scholarly communication and head of book and online publications. Before coming to the MLA, Gibson taught writing and literature in the college classroom. Gibson looks forward to continuing the innovative work done by the previous director of scholarly communication, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, who assumed an academic appointment in August after nearly six years at the MLA.
Motions and regular resolutions that the Delegate Assembly will consider at its next meeting, which will take place during the 2018 MLA Annual Convention in New York, must be submitted by 1 October of this year. The assembly’s Web page provides information about placing an item on the agenda for the meeting as well as links to several resources about motions and resolutions. Questions about submitting a motion or a resolution may be directed to the coordinator of governance (firstname.lastname@example.org).
When the executive committees of the MLA’s forums meet during the January 2018 convention in New York, they will take up the matter of nominations for the executive committee elections that will be held in fall 2018. Though the executive committees are responsible for making nominations, each committee is required to nominate at least one candidate who has been suggested by the wider MLA membership (unless there are too few suggestions). Members are therefore encouraged to submit suggestions for the 2018 forum executive committee elections by filling out a brief suggestion form. Suggestions received by 18 December 2017 will be forwarded to the executive committees in time for their convention meetings.
Representatives of the MLA’s forums in the Delegate Assembly are now elected by the members who have primary affiliations with the forums that have open seats to fill. Fifty-three forums will hold delegate elections in the fall of 2018; the executive committees of these forums will take up the matter of nominations when they meet during the January 2018 convention in New York. Each forum’s executive committee is required to consider for nomination those members who have been suggested by the membership. Please see the overview of forum delegate elections for additional information about these elections, about Delegate Assembly service, and about how to submit a suggestion. The deadline for making suggestions is 18 December 2017.
The volume Approaches to Teaching the Works of Edith Wharton, edited by Ferdâ Asya, is now in development in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature. Instructors who have taught these 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.
The MLA has received a generous $309,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue its work on Humanities Commons. With support from the Mellon Foundation, the MLA will engage in a nine-month process of sustainability planning and governance-model development. In the course of the project, the MLA will bring together its existing society partners—the Association for Jewish Studies; the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies; and the College Art Association—with a group of other interested societies to develop a strategic plan that can ensure the future of the interdisciplinary, nonprofit scholarly research network. Kathleen Fitzpatrick will continue to serve as project director of Humanities Commons in her new role at Michigan State University, and Terrence Callaghan, the MLA’s director of administration and finance, will oversee the project as the MLA’s principal investigator. The grant period will run through September 2018.
Voting on the 2017 ratification ballot concluded at midnight (EDT) on 1 June. Members ratified the 2017 Delegate Assembly’s approval of two constitutional amendments. One amendment aligns the provision for paid life membership in article 3.C with the new criterion for the granting of life membership after fifty years; the other provides for the representation of part-time faculty members on the Executive Council. Support for the amendments ranged from 91% to 94% of the members who voted in that section of the ballot. The amendments have been incorporated into the text of the constitution at the Web site.
Two resolutions approved by the 2017 Delegate Assembly were also on the ballot. Resolutions forwarded to the membership must be ratified by a majority vote in which the number of those voting for ratification equals at least ten percent of the association’s voting membership. All members in good standing as of 17 April who were also members on 7 January, the date of the Delegate Assembly meeting, were eligible to vote. The number of eligible voters was 18,279, so 1,828 votes were required for ratification of the resolutions. The first resolution, which calls on the MLA to “refrain from endorsing the boycott” of Israeli academic institutions promoted by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, was ratified by a vote of 1,954 yes and 885 no. The second resolution, which calls on the MLA to endorse a statement of the American Association of University Professors, “Higher Education after the 2016 Election,” and urges members to disseminate the statement widely, was ratified by a vote of 2,471 yes and 229 no. For more information on the resolution process, please visit the MLA Web site.
The volume Approaches to Teaching the Works of C. P. Cavafy, edited by Peter Jeffreys and Demetres Tryphonopoulos, is now in development in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature. Instructors who have taught these 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.
Paula M. Krebs
In a statement released today, the MLA announced that Paula M. Krebs will become the fourteenth executive director of the association on 1 August. Krebs, who is stepping down as dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University, will succeed Rosemary G. Feal, the MLA’s executive director since 2002. Krebs served on the MLA Executive Council from January 2013 to January 2017 and was a member of the Nominating Committee from 2009 to 2010. She also served on the executive committee of the Association of Departments of English from 2003 to 2005. Before arriving at Bridgewater State, she was special assistant to the president for external relations at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, an American Council on Education Fellow in the president’s office of the University of Massachusetts, and a professor and department chair at Wheaton. She has also been a regular contributor to higher education publications and writes a column for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog Vitae. In accepting the appointment, she observed, “We have come far as an association under Rosemary Feal’s stewardship—in recognizing the broad range of institutions that constitute American higher education, in bringing attention to the concerns of faculty members at teaching-focused institutions and faculty members off the tenure track, and in broadening our sense of our discipline. I look forward to building on our momentum and championing the value of the study of the humanities.” Read the full statement.
In a letter to leaders at Stony Brook University, State University of New York, the MLA Executive Council expressed deep concern about the proposed cutbacks to several humanities programs at the university. Threatened with dissolution or resizing are the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature and the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, and undergraduate majors in theater arts, cinema studies, cultural studies, and comparative literature may be suspended. The Executive Council cited the importance of the humanities for teaching “students to think, create, and problem-solve—abilities students will need in life, including in any job they might hold after college.” The proposed cuts threaten the core educational mission of the university and jeopardize the very excellence Stony Brook claims to support: “It is simply not possible to protect excellence in a university by dissolving excellent departments.” Read the full letter.