In a New York Times letter to the editor, MLA President Marianne Hirsch responds to Thomas L. Friedman’s article on the potential of massive open online courses (MOOCs). While acknowledging that MOOCs may expand access to university curricula, Hirsch warns that current models provide a narrow range of perspectives. She argues instead for cultivating “a multitude of professors with different views who can share deep critical thinking in a community of learners such as only the embodied experience of the classroom can yield.”
Thank you to all those who made the 2013 MLA Annual Convention a success. Nearly 8,000 people attended the Boston convention, and, in a postconvention survey, 67% of attendees rated Boston as an excellent convention city, and 27% as a good choice. We hope that you will continue to share your thoughts about the 2013 meeting by commenting on sessions in the online Program and participating in discussions on MLA Commons—and that you will join us in Chicago in 2014!
A transcript and audio recording of Michael Bérubé’s Presidential Address, delivered at the 2013 MLA Annual Convention in Boston, are now available online. In “How We Got Here,” Bérubé considers what inspired teachers of literature and language to join the profession, how they can make the case for the importance of what they do, and why they must strive to improve the working conditions of their colleagues. The 2012–13 president looks back on important initiatives of the past year with the hope “that this will have been a watershed year, the year when attention to the working conditions of the majority of our colleagues in higher education moved from the margin to the center of discussion.”
In her welcome message, the incoming 2013–14 MLA president, Marianne Hirsch, lays out the association’s goals and activities for the coming year, highlighting resources on the MLA Web site, the new MLA Commons platform, the MLA Task Force on Graduate Education, a working group on divisions and discussion groups, and the association’s ongoing efforts to expand the MLA’s international reach.
Marianne Hirsch, MLA president in 2013, has now issued an invitation for session proposals on the presidential theme of the 2014 convention: Vulnerable Times. Vulnerable Times addresses the vulnerability of life, the planet, and our disciplines, as well as the acts of imagination and forms of resistance that promote social change—in our time and throughout history. Please consider this theme an invitation to think about how the arts and the humanities (and the textual, historical, theoretical, and activist work that we do in the framework of the MLA) can contribute to social, political, and scientific analyses of the vulnerabilities we share collectively and those that are socially imposed on particular individuals and groups. Members are encouraged to submit forum proposals, roundtables, division and discussion group programs, and special sessions that engage with this theme. Session proposal forms for the 2014 convention will be available online by early March.
The Convention Guide and the first issue of the Convention Daily for the 2013 convention in Boston are now online and will be available on-site at MLA information centers. The Guide provides general information about convention services, a map of the locations of the convention hotels, and floor plans for meeting venues. The three issues of the Daily, which will be distributed on-site and online during the convention, list updates to sessions, exhibit hall events, and other timely information; attendees may also view updates to sessions at www.mla.org/program or mla13.org (for mobile devices).
Balloting in the 2012 elections for second vice president, the Executive Council, the Delegate Assembly, and the division and discussion group executive committees closed on 10 December. Roland Greene was elected second vice president, and Alicia M. de la Torre Falzon, Donald E. Hall, and Paula M. Krebs were elected to the Executive Council for four-year terms. Full election results are available on the MLA Web site.
The Program for the 2013 MLA Annual Convention is now available in a version optimized for mobile devices. Users can search the mobile Program by keyword or subject as well as browse sessions by day, participant, location, and event type; view a map of the convention area; and find general convention information. The mobile Program can be browsed off-line and is updated automatically whenever you have a connection. To use it, visit mla13.org on your mobile device. To see comments and annotations by session organizers, go towww.mla.org/program.
In a speech to the Council of Graduate Schools, MLA President Michael Bérubé articulated the importance of reforming graduate programs in the humanities and acknowledged the hurdles that must be overcome. Despite the challenges, reports Inside Higher Ed, Bérubé affirmed the value of graduate education in the humanities and its continuing vitality.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2012 MLA publication prize competitions. The publication prizes will be awarded in a ceremony on 5 January at the 2013 MLA Annual Convention in Boston. The ceremony is open to the public and will be followed by a reception.