An Update on Division and Discussion Group Restructuring

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing with an update on the project of reviewing and revising the MLA divisions and discussion groups. This past spring, we consulted with the executive committees of all the divisions and discussion groups, and we learned a great deal from their animated responses, in which they outlined their thoughts about present and future directions of their fields.

In consultation with the Program Committee, the working group we chair has advised the Executive Council on the preparation of a new draft document in the light of this helpful advice. We are working on this draft now, and, although it is too soon to share details, we can say that we have opted for a mostly expansive and additive approach. We aim to create space for new fields while reiterating our commitment to the deep study of language and literature in their historical and cultural contexts, as well as to the protection of small fields.

As part of the revision and renewal process, we intend to use the new resource of MLA Commons to enable robust discussions about topics for guaranteed sessions at future conventions. The Program Committee will institute the regular review of all divisions and discussion groups, which it is already charged with doing. After the open consultation on the Commons and review by the Program Committee and the Executive Council, we will hold an open discussion at the Delegate Assembly and an open hearing at the convention in January 2014. The Executive Council will then review progress on this project at its February 2014 meeting.

We hope that you will be as excited as we are about the proposed changes, which make a renewed map of our association’s investments in scholarly research, in pedagogy, and in reflecting on and advocating the interests of our profession while maintaining fundamental structures and designations. Maps (and metaphors drawn from them) always have conceptual limits, of course, but we are eager to hear what you think about our effort at a revitalized representation of members’ interests. We hope you will contribute to this process of innovation by looking at and responding to the draft document when it is posted on MLA Commons in August.

Please join MLA Commons now so that you can comment frankly on our new and collaboratively crafted document later this summer.

Yours cordially,

Marianne Hirsch, President

Margaret Ferguson, First Vice President