In releasing the Report of the Task Force on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature six months ago, the task force and the MLA Executive Council sought to provoke a discussion about the problems addressed by the report and about new models for doctoral study. While we believed that the report marked an important step forward in the conception of doctoral education in literature, language, and rhetoric in the United States and that it reflects a deep engagement with many constituencies, we also recognized that conditions at different kinds of institutions, campuses, and departments vary enormously. We have been gratified to learn that many departments have taken up the challenge of reexamining their programs in the light of the report.
To encourage further discussion of the report’s recommendations, the MLA has launched an MLA Commons site, Graduate Education Reform. On the site you’ll find the full text of the report, with space for commenting on each section; an appendix of innovative programs that exemplify the report’s recommendations; reflections on the report; and resources for students, faculty members, administrators, and others.
The Executive Council and I invite discussion about the report, as well as new ideas about reforming doctoral education in the humanities. How would your department adapt the report’s recommendations into practical measures appropriate to your institution? What additional ideas do you have about how the report of the task force might be translated into action? To add your voice, please comment directly on any section of the report or submit by e-mail descriptions of innovative programs or reflections posted on other blogs or Web sites.
I am grateful for the thoughtful responses the council and I have already received, and I look forward to seeing this important discussion continue.