From the President

Columns by Judith Butler

multiple microphones on stage

The Future of the Humanities Can Be Found in Its Public Forms

These are among the many sites in the university where the connection to public worlds is already being made; these sites should be supported as the portals to a broader world, the link between the university and those who require the humanities to live a more illuminated life. The future of the humanities may well depend on realizing that the best case for art, poetry, literature, and performance is already being made by our most publicly engaged fields.
graduate in PhD regalia raising fist in front of building

The Future of Humanities PhDs

It has been a challenging time at the MLA as we face the transformation of work under COVID-19 and fresh threats to the future of the humanities. The report by the MLA Taskforce on Ethical Conduct in Graduate Education focused on power dynamics in graduate education. It clearly opposes the unacceptable conditions for students who face harassment and neglect as well as debt and impending financial precarity, and it sets MLA guidelines for faculty conduct (Report). The pandemic has made life even more difficult for graduate students, intensifying racial and economic disparities and underscoring the need for graduate student participation in deciding the safety of their environments for teaching and studying.

From the President

Columns by Simon E. Gikandi

At the MLA Convention!

Originally published in the Winter 2019 MLA Newsletter The arrival of the MLA convention Program is something I have looked forward to... Read More...

From the President

Columns by Anne Ruggles Gere

From the President

Columns by Diana Taylor

When the Resolution Causes the Breach

This past year has been difficult and at times heartbreaking. In addition to the attacks on public education throughout the pre-K–12 system, our universities are under siege. The government is pulling back on its obligation to education, as evidenced most recently when Betsy DeVos argued that “we’ve done a disservice to young people for many years by suggesting that the only path to success as adults is through a four-year college or university” (qtd. in Harris). Several campuses have become the scene of intense struggles to define and defend an open democratic space.

From the President

Columns by K. Anthony Appiah

Taking Issue, Taking Stock

The Modern Language Association of America is a scholarly organization. Is it also a political one? Not in a straightforwardly partisan way: our legal status prohibits us from endorsing candidates for elected office. But on topics that are central to our mission and that we can address in a clear and unified voice, the MLA can make a contribution to the national conversation. Among the issues that the association has been concerned with are the growth of contingent labor and the decline of tenure in higher education; language study as an educational right; and, very broadly, a diminishment in support for the humanities. . . .

From the President

Columns by Roland Greene

Speaking for Interpretation

As our convention in Austin approaches, I’ve been reflecting on our profession as I have observed it from the vantage of president of the world’s largest scholarly organization. My three previous columns noted several of the important initiatives that the MLA has recently begun and will continue. . . .

From the President

Columns by Margaret Ferguson

Tense Conversations

A few weeks ago, my twin teenage daughters gave me a lesson in how to talk to Siri, the female ghost in my new smartphone. “Ask her a question,” said Marianne. I couldn’t think what to ask, so Christina intervened: “Tell her to make a joke.” Seeing that I still didn’t get it, Christina prompted Siri, and she responded with unnerving speed: “Past, Present, and Future met in a bar. It was tense.”

From the President

Columns by Marianne Hirsch

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