In response to the New York City Council’s pressure on Brooklyn College to rescind an invitation to a speaker the council considered controversial, Marianne Hirsch, the 2013–14 president of the MLA, wrote to Karen Gould, the president of Brooklyn College. Hirsch affirmed her support for the college’s “efforts to uphold the principles of freedom of expression and debate.” The full message is available on the From the President site.
The Spring 2013 Newsletter is now available online. The issue includes 2012 election results, an article on the launch of MLA Commons, Rosemary G. Feal’s editor’s column on her return to Guatemala, and Marianne Hirsch’s president’s column on rethinking the MLA’s division and discussion group structure. Visit the From the Executive Director blog for an expanded version of Feal’s column that includes photographs.
Recent PhD recipients who are interested in careers in government and the nonprofit sector are encouraged to apply for the Public Fellows program of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). The program, which will place twenty fellows in staff positions at partnering organizations for two years, has an application deadline of 27 March 2013. To learn more or to apply online, please visit the ACLS Web site.
The MLA Committee on Honors and Awards invites authors and editors to compete for the association’s publication awards. There are eleven prizes with a 1 May deadline, including prizes that honor outstanding work in languages, literatures, and interdisciplinary studies and in specific genres (e.g., translation, scholarly edition). Information on the individual prizes, their deadlines, and the application process is available online. You may also request detailed information on any MLA prize by contacting the office of programs (email@example.com).
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).