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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Congratulations to Anouk Alquier, visiting lecturer in French at Amherst College, who has won an iPad mini for being the two-thousandth member of MLA Commons. We thank all of you who have logged in to help build this community. For more information about getting started on the site, we encourage you to visit the Welcome Group blog or to e-mail email@example.com.
In a statement at the National Academy of Sciences meeting on public access to federally supported research and development publications, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, the MLA’s director of scholarly communication, discussed the changing role of professional societies in the Internet era. Citing the ability to disseminate one’s work through a platform like MLA Commons, Fitzpatrick posited that “the value of joining a scholarly society in the age of open, public Web-based communication may be in participation.” Read the full text of her statement on the office of scholarly communication blog.
Since MLA Commons launched in January, nearly two thousand MLA members have logged in to the network to create their profile, join groups related to their interests, start blogs, and much more. To celebrate, we’re awarding an iPad mini to the two-thousandth person to log in and create a profile. If you haven’t yet explored what you can do on the Commons, we invite you to log in with your MLA credentials, update your profile with a photo and description of your interests, and take a video tour of the site. We look forward to seeing you there!
Over seventy sites have been created on MLA Commons, from informal blogs to open-access publications using CommentPress to the new site from the MLA International Bibliography. If you’d like to start a blog on the Commons, you’ll find posts on creating a site, using CommentPress, and much more in the Welcome Group. We will be featuring selected sites in the forthcoming MLA Commons newsletter, so send a note to let us know what you’ve created and feel free to e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an interview with Ernesto Priego for 4Humanities, Rosemary G. Feal, the executive director of the MLA, discusses the association’s new initiatives, its ongoing work on behalf of teachers and students, and the importance of supporting a public role for the humanities.