2014 Convention Program Now Live

The Program for the 2014 MLA Annual Convention in Chicago is now available online. Find sessions by participant, subject, meeting time, or keyword or browse sessions related to the presidential theme, Vulnerable Times, and sessions open to the public. If you are a participant, you can annotate your session listing with links to abstracts, drafts, or other supplementary material. The full Program will also be available as a PDF in October, and print copies of the Program should reach members and convention registrants in early November. A version of the Program optimized for mobile devices will be available for use when the convention starts.

The New Variorum Shakespeare Digital Challenge

The MLA Committee on the New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare (NVS) is sponsoring the second NVS Digital Challenge to find the most innovative and compelling uses of the data contained in one of the NVS editions. This year the MLA is making available the XML files and schema for two volumes, The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors, under a Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 license. The committee seeks entries featuring new means of displaying, representing, and exploring this data in the most exciting API, interface, visualization, or data-mining project. It is especially interested in entries that combine the NVS data with another Shakespearian project, such as Folger Digital Texts, Internet Shakespeare Editions, or Open Source Shakespeare. The winner will receive $500 and will be recognized at the 2015 MLA convention in Vancouver. URLs for all entries must be sent by e-mail to nvs@mla.org and must be received no later than 1 August 2014. Visit the New Variorum Shakespeare Digital Challenge page to learn more and download the files.

Fall Newsletter Online

Members can now read the special convention issue of the MLA Newsletter online. The fall issue features 2013 election information; President Marianne Hirsch’s column on the presidential theme, Vulnerable Times; Rosemary G. Feal’s editor’s column on what makes an effective special session proposal; and an article on this year’s winner of the Phyllis Franklin Award for Public Advocacy of the Humanities, John Sayles. Visit the From the President and From the Executive Director blogs on MLA Commons to comment on these features.

John Sayles Receives Phyllis Franklin Award

The fifth Phyllis Franklin Award for Public Advocacy of the Humanities will be presented to John Sayles, film director, screenwriter, and novelist, at the MLA Annual Convention in Chicago. MLA President Marianne Hirsch will present the award during the MLA Awards Ceremony on 11 January 2014 in recognition of Sayles’s advocacy of the arts and humanities. During the convention there will be a screening of one of Sayles’s films, and at the session “John Sayles and Maggie Renzi: A Creative Conversation,” Sayles and Renzi will discuss their work. The award was established to honor Phyllis Franklin, who served as the MLA’s director of English programs before serving as executive director from 1985 until 2002.

An Open Discussion of MLA Group Structure

A working group cochaired by Marianne Hirsch, president of the MLA, and Margaret Ferguson, first vice president of the MLA, in consultation with members of the executive committees of current divisions and discussion groups and with the advice of a large number of members, has created a draft proposal for a new MLA group structure and is seeking your guidance. Visit groupsdiscussion.mla.hcommons.org to join the discussion.

Cultural Excursions in Chicago

Registrants for the 2014 MLA Annual Convention are eligible to attend MLA-sponsored cultural excursions in Chicago. This year’s excursions offer attendees insider tours of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Goose Island Brewery and Pub, the Chicago History Museum, and the Newberry Library. Space is limited and fees apply. To participate, sign up during the registration process, or, if you have already registered, e-mail registration@mla.org. Convention registrants may also sign up a limited number of guests for each excursion. View full descriptions of the excursions on the MLA Web site.

Convention Registration Open for MLA Members

MLA members can now register and make travel arrangements and hotel reservations for the 2014 MLA Annual Convention, which will be held in Chicago on 9–12 January 2014. Members will save $30 by registering by 2 October. Nonmembers can join the association now to register at member rates—a savings of $90—and enjoy the best selection of hotels (nonmember registration opens 3 October). Please visit the convention page to learn more about the 2014 meeting, including the presidential theme, convention exhibitors, and cultural excursions in Chicago.

Discussion about Letters of Recommendation in the News

A new article in Inside Higher Ed spotlights MLA First Vice President Margaret Ferguson’s draft statement on streamlining letters of recommendation and the discussion it has sparked on MLA Commons. Incorporating suggestions from those who have commented on the Commons, Ferguson will ask the Executive Council to consider a revised statement in October. MLA members can comment on the draft by logging in to the Commons.

Dennis Looney to Join the MLA in 2014

The MLA is pleased to announce that Dennis Looney, professor in the Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh, will join the MLA staff as the director of programs and ADFL when Nelly Furman retires in January 2014. A scholar of Italian language and literature, Looney brings with him a decade of experience as a department chair. He has also served as assistant dean of humanities and as a member and president of the ADFL executive committee. We look forward to welcoming Dennis Looney, who is certain to build on the outstanding work done by Nelly Furman during her nearly ten years at the association.