Post Academic

The latest from the MLA: Convention proposals due April 1

Posted in The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on March 29, 2010
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We usually don’t do CFPs (aka Calls for Papers) here, but I got an email yesterday from the MLA reminding me that the deadline for all panel proposals for the January 2011 MLA convention are due this Thursday, April 1.  The reason I’m posting this is that the MLA announced earlier this month that it is promoting panels and papers on the ever-worsening status of the profession, under the catchily-titled theme “The Academy in Hard Times”.

Just thought we’d put out a PSA about the MLA convention deadline, especially if you’re more together than I am and can get a proposal together in the next few days.  Here’s a link to the MLA proposal submission site.  At this point, I think single paper proposals to panel CFPs are all but closed by now, so you’ll have to come up with a panel topic, then find a few colleagues and friends with papers to round out the proposal.  One helpful tip: It’s a bit confusing to navigate the MLA submission site, especially if you aren’t a member and don’t have a login–actually, you can’t even submit anything if you aren’t member, so don’t waste your time if you’re not!

Hopefully, some of panels listed under “The Academy in Hard Times” will consider post-academic issues.  Good luck, and let us know if you have a panel accepted, whether it’s about “Hard Times” or good times!

2 Responses to 'The latest from the MLA: Convention proposals due April 1'

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  1. Susan said,

    Excellent post! And those of you who have shied away from proposing special sessions (those not sponsored by divisions with guaranteed slots) because the MLA convention has seemed like a closed shop, please try again for the L.A. convention next January. Divisions are now granted fewer slots to make way for more special panels and roundtables. I’m convinced that the MLA executive council is trying to make the organization in general and the next convention in particular confront the challenges this profession is facing.

    Disclaimer: I chair the executive committee of a division, but I do not participate in the larger structural conversations and decisions. I can say, however, that divisions are no longer allowed to hog the convention program (each division has “lost” one or two guaranteed program slots), and that every announcement/directive I’ve received from Rosemary Feal and the convention director has emphasized our responsibility to help change the MLA culture. That’s not going to happen if every “Academy in Hard Times” panel consists of tenured and tenure-track members and best friends of division chairs.

    By the way, Rosemary Feal is a keen Twitterer whose Twitter feed last December revealed a lot about who wasn’t at MLA and why. She invited her followers to the grown-up VIP drinks party in her suite the last evening and shocked the eminences grises by sitting down to a real conversation with her much cuter personal guests. She has publicly (and, I think, quite sincerely) stated that some of the most interesting and urgent MLA conversations were not happening at MLA.

    If you’re not an MLA member or you haven’t paid this year’s dues, do it now and as soon as you get your confirmation email, you’ll be eligible to propose a panel or roundtable. Your panel’s participants have until April 7 to become members.

    What would happen if MLA weren’t either the academy’s version of 42nd Street and Ninth Avenue, circa 1979, or you rocking your interpretation of the aforementioned situ but on your university’s dime for twenty minutes of a far less imaginative performance?

    Pesach cutesiness notwithstanding, next year in Los Angeles!

    • Arnold Pan said,

      What a wonderful message, Susan! It’s great to have someone who has some knowledge of how the MLA works commenting here. The MLA is such a large organization that it’s sometime difficult to understand what it’s trying to do at a more personal and individual level. It is very encouraging to hear that the MLA powers-that-be are sincere in their efforts and trying to look out for its members. It is very easy to use the MLA as a straw man to pin the profession’s large structural problems on–hey, I’m definitely guilty of that.

      And you’re right: If the MLA is making an effort to incorporate more voices than “eminences grises,” as you put it, we should take advantage of it. Maybe if others who are following this thread want to put something together for post-academics or grad students who entering an uncertain job market or whoever else, I can scrape together a quick proposal statement by Thursday. Just email us at [at] gmail [dot] com. Let’s see if we can ad-hoc something together!

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