Roundtable on the MLA and the Humanities at Columbia University

The Columbia University Maison Française will hold a roundtable discussion, “The Humanities and the MLA Today,” on Monday, 21 October, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the East Gallery, Buell Hall, on the Columbia campus. Participating in the roundtable will be Marianne Hirsch, 2013 MLA president; Mary Louise Pratt, former MLA president; Simon Gikandi, PMLA editor; Pierre Force, dean of humanities, Columbia University; and Carlos Alonso, member of the MLA Task Force on Graduate Education and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia. Panelists will consider current debates about the future of education in the humanities, the politics of language in the age of globalization, publishing and scholarly communication in the digital age, and the future of graduate education.

Chicago Humanities Summit at 2014 Convention

The MLA, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Chicago Humanities Festival are sponsoring a humanities summit, which will be held on Thursday, 9 January, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Gratz Center at Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago. The event will expand on the conversation started by The Heart of the Matter, the official report from the AAAS’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, and will center on a series of concurrent how-to sessions. Facilitated by leading humanities scholars, the sessions will showcase and workshop innovative programs, projects, and initiatives that take the humanities well beyond the academy.  More information and a registration form are available here.

1 November Deadline for Convention Travel Grants

The MLA offers financial assistance to eligible non-tenure-track and unemployed members, regular and life members residing abroad, and graduate student members. The $300 grants partially reimburse expenses for travel to the MLA convention, which will be held in Chicago from 9 to 12 January 2014. To find out if you are eligible to receive a grant and to learn how to apply, click here. The deadline for applications is 1 November 2013. Please refer questions to Annie Reiser at

Financial assistance for travel to the convention is partially supported by member contributions to the Professional Education Assistance Funds and the Good Neighbor Fund. If you can, please make a donation to help those who need assistance; your contribution is tax-deductible.

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 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 to join the discussion.