Posts Categorized: Column

#Ferguson2MLA: Had to Be There

Originally published in the Summer 2015 MLA Newsletter If you were at the MLA convention in Vancouver on 9 January, you participated in one of the most transformative uses of energy and space imaginable. I’ve attended annual meetings for nearly four decades, and I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m talking about the Ferguson to… Read more »

Back on Track: Connecting with Former Graduate Students

Originally published in the Spring 2015 MLA Newsletter This column was written in collaboration with David Laurence, Director of Research and ADE. Discussion continues on MLA Commons in The Trend: The Blog of the MLA Office of Research. Academic departments understand the need to track PhDs who pursue careers in tenure-track positions—indeed, jobs on the… Read more »

The Conference Interview: Do or Don’t?

Originally published in the Winter 2014 MLA Newsletter Most readers of this column began their job searches during an age when the MLA Annual Convention served as the site for college and university job interviews. Those who were “on the market” answered position announcements in the Job Information List (JIL), sent dossiers, and waited for… Read more »

Graduate Students and the MLA Convention

Originally published in the Fall 2014 MLA Newsletter Most graduate students reading this column weren’t born when I attended my first MLA convention in the late ’70s. Short version: nervous, fascinated, out of place, thrilled, intimidated, enthralled. And New York City! Although the convention has changed a great deal in the ensuing decades, for most… Read more »

Continuing the Conversation on the Report of the Task Force on Doctoral Study

Since its release, the report of the Task Force on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature has generated useful discussions about the challenges faced by our fields and potential strategies for responding. As we continue these discussions, it’s important to keep in mind what this report aims to do—and what it does not aim… Read more »

Expanding Career Horizons: Possibilities, Pitfalls

Originally published in the Summer 2014 MLA Newsletter In recent years, the MLA has been exploring a new project to expand career opportunities for PhD holders, one we expect to refine and develop in the years ahead. Before I tell you more about the project, I want to acknowledge several potential objections to it. Some… Read more »

Why Was There a Session on Academic Boycotts and a “Right to Enter” Resolution at the MLA Convention?

Originally published in the Spring 2014 MLA Newsletter As many of you know, controversy swirled at the 2014 MLA convention, before, during, and after. I’m still receiving dozens of messages from individuals with no connection to the MLA, some of which contain hate speech, others offering a more reasoned perspective. Only about two dozen members… Read more »

Professor No Longer: On Capacity and Risk

Originally published in the Winter 2013 MLA Newsletter This fall, during the week of 22 September, I served as the guest blogger for PhDs at Work, a Web site where people like me who earned PhDs but do not hold academic appointments describe the daily activities they perform in their jobs. I welcomed this opportunity,… Read more »

Why Was the Session I Submitted Accepted for the Convention?

Originally published in the Fall 2013 MLA Newsletter Now there’s a question I have never gotten—you can imagine the one I do hear—yet I think it’s important to let members know how we choose convention sessions. The first key thing to understand is that some of the association’s entities (such as divisions, discussion groups, allied… Read more »

Organic Planting at the MLA

Originally published in the Summer 2013 MLA Newsletter If you hang around a campus long enough, you will become aware when the next strategic plan is in the works. Surveys will crop up in your in-box, you’ll be summoned to special meetings, and, if you are in an administrative position, you’ll be directed to assemble… Read more »