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. . . .

Setting Boundaries

Some years ago, I resolved to organize my books. There were a lot of them, acquired over a few decades spent on three continents, and I wanted a system where I could readily locate any volume I pleased. As any librarian would have warned me, quandaries quickly arose. I could try to sort philosophy books into metaphysics and epistemology, on the one hand (alphabetized by author within the topic), and political and moral philosophy, on the other. But this did no favors to books about moral epistemology. Should books on anthropological theory go with anthropology, or did they consort more naturally with cultural theory? . . .

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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