Welcome to the 2019 MLA Annual Convention


Chicago L with Balloons

Photo credit: Maarten van den Heuvel

Sweet home Chicago! America’s third largest city, and one of the easiest cities to reach from across the United States, Chicago has something for everyone. Incredible architecture; world-class museums; fabulous restaurants; and a wide array of languages, cultures, and neighborhoods combine to make Chicago a city you’ll take to right away.

The convention itself has something for everyone too! There will be nearly 750 sessions on language, literature, writing, pedagogy, media studies, and much more. Many sessions will focus on professional development and provide you with the tools and information you need to achieve your career goals. Hundreds of sessions are part of the presidential theme, Textual Transactions, and we have special events such as the first Humanities in Five contest, the inaugural MLA Night Out, and the return of the Possible Futures Career Fair and the first Programs Showcase. Register today!

The American Historical Association (AHA) will join us in the Windy City for its own annual meeting, and MLA members will be able to attend and enjoy the many AHA sessions. A number of sessions will be presented at both conventions, so you’ll have double the chances to attend!

An online version of the convention program is available now—check this page and the MLA 2019 convention page for updates and more information to help you make the most of your convention.

Chicago Skyline

Photo credit: Mex Bender

I look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

Karin Bagnall
Head of Convention Programs


MLA Exhibit Hall – Penn Press Spotlight

Check out the newest publications from one of the oldest university presses in the United States, University of Pennsylvania Press (Penn Press), in booth 121 in the exhibit hall (Rhinelander Gallery, second floor) at the 2018 MLA convention. What makes them so special? Read on.

Support for Humanities Academics

Penn Press is an integral part of the ecosystem of humanities scholarship. Our books and journals make valuable contributions to the study of history, literature, and more. We count humanities scholars not only among our authors but among our customers and readers, and we are thrilled to play a vital role in their careers and lives.

Convention Discounts and Raffles

The Penn Press display will feature our latest literature titles, available for purchase at a 40% conference discount and free international and domestic shipping. Customers can also enter our book raffle by signing up for the Penn Press mailing list; raffle winners will be notified after the conference.

What You May Not Know

MLA members may be pleased to discover the remarkable strength and breadth of our titles in literary studies, which span medieval and early modern literature, American literature, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, history of the book, and Jewish studies. We also publish numerous interdisciplinary works that touch on areas of study of interest to literary scholars, including books on intellectual and cultural history, the history of science, women’s studies, gender and sexuality studies, and area studies (e.g., African studies, Asian studies, Latin American and Caribbean studies, and Middle East studies).

Connecting with the Press

If you wish to schedule an appointment with Senior Humanities Editor Jerry Singerman at the convention, please write to him before the convention (singerma@upenn.edu) and include a brief description of your project.

Learn more about Penn Press by:Penn Press logo


Welcome Universitas Press at MLA 2018

Stop by booth 321 in the MLA exhibit hall (Americas I, third floor) and say hello to Universitas Press, one of our newest exhibitors and probably the youngest press in the exhibit hall. Why should you get to know them? I’ll let them explain.

Tell us about the press.

We are a press born from our experience as lecturers and as parents. The changes we bring to book publishing stem from real time spent in the classroom and from what we have seen our children experience as students. Every title we publish goes through a series of stages at which it can be vetoed and has to answer favorably to strict criteria: Does it bring new understanding to how we view the world? Is it a valuable contribution to the field? Does it encourage learning? Is it accessible? Is it affordable? Is it beautiful? Our books stand out because we love them and everybody who uses them loves them.

What can we expect at your MLA booth?

We are featuring several titles that are setting new standards in book publishing and in the publishing of classroom material in particular. Our books are designed with both the instructor and the student in mind, from selection of material to book structure and price. For example, our anthology of Victorian poetry, My Own Land’s Sins, features the highest number of poets ever anthologized, of female poets ever anthologized, and of poems of the richest thematic variety. The poems are listed in chronological order, which gives readers a better understanding of the evolution of Victorian poetry.

Everyone buying a book from us will get a free book. We will also tweet our specials one hour in advance so that our followers can come by booth 321 and get the books they want at the lowest possible price. For those interested in teaching one of our books, we have exquisite mini bookmarks that we will offer generously for their students.

How can attendees connect with you?

Our editor in chief, Cristina Artenie, will be at the convention. She will be happy to talk to anyone coming by our booth. Since it is a huge exhibit, though, please send either a Facebook message or an e-mail (editorchief@unversitaspress.com) in advance to set aside some time for a private talk.

For more information about who we are and what we do, please check our Web site at www.universitaspress.com and follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/universitaspress/ and on Twitter at @UniversitasP.

Universitas Press logo

Celebrating University Presses at MLA 2018

Edward Savaria, Jr.In the exhibit hall at the MLA convention, attendees have access to a wide range of publishers, from small independent journals to large international booksellers. In honor of University Press Week (6–11 November 2017), we’d like to shine a light on those university presses that will be exhibiting at the 2018 MLA convention in New York City.

Edward Savaria, Jr.More than thirty university presses will exhibit at the 2018 convention. Some, like NYU Press and Columbia University Press, are a quick subway ride away. Others, like Stanford University Press and University of Nebraska Press, will be traveling from across the country, and some, like Edinburgh University Press and University of Toronto Press, will be traveling from outside the United States. Some seem to have been around forever, like Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Johns Hopkins University Press, while others, like University Press of Mississippi and SUNY Press, are relative newcomers.

Edward Savaria, Jr.All these presses exhibit at the MLA convention to provide attendees with access to the most recent publications, often at a great discount. Be sure to visit the exhibit hall and browse among the wide variety of exhibitors. You may find your next favorite book to read or teach, or your next favorite subject to explore, while also catching up with friends and meeting editors.

Located in two halls in the New York Hilton Midtown (Rhinelander Hall, second floor, and Americas I, third floor), the exhibit hall opens on the second day of the convention. The hours are 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. on 5 and 6 January and 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. on 7 January.


Edward Savaria, Jr.

All photos by Edward Savaria, Jr. at the 2017 MLA convention in Philadelphia

Explore NYC! Join a Cultural Excursion

New York City is home to a wide range of world-renowned libraries, museums, and cultural institutions, reflective of this city’s rich history and diverse population. The seven excursions created for the 2018 MLA convention take place in six different Manhattan neighborhoods. Join an excursion to experience New York City’s incredible history and culture, from the city’s sidewalks to the inner sanctums of libraries and museums, and return to the convention reinvigorated. Sign up when you register for the convention, or you can write to Michael Reilly if you have already registered.


Steps away from Central Park and a few blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art stands the New York Society Library, home to New York City’s first library. Originally located on Wall Street, the library opened in 1754 and was used by George Washington and John Jay while it served as the nation’s Library of Congress. Join library staff members for an intimate view of the collection’s treasures and conservation room. Learn about the library’s history during a tour of the 1917 town house.


The New-York Historical Society is the oldest museum in New York City. The 1804 landmarked building faces Central Park, next to the American Museum of Natural History. The guided tour highlights artworks and artifacts from the 1700s to present day, reflecting the broad range of New York City’s history. Following the tour, join the head librarian for a visit to the museum’s celebrated library.


Bordered by Central Park to the north and the Empire State Building to the south and home to many of Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers, Midtown Manhattan is the city’s business and tourist center. Stroll north to 60th Street and visit the Grolier Club in its 1917 neo-Georgian town house for a curator-led tour of an exhibit on the McLoughlin Brothers’ picture books from 1858 to 1920. Or head south to 42nd Street for an excursion to the New York Public Library’s flagship building, which opened in 1911. Join library staff members for a tour of the landmarked Beaux Arts building along with up-close access to highlights from the library’s collections.


The Morgan Library and Museum, once the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, sits on Madison Avenue, near the New York Public Library and the Empire State Building. Join museum staff members for a tour of the museum, which includes the original 1906 library, and enjoy special access to the Morgan’s treasured rare book and manuscript collection. Be sure to check out session 329, “Pre-Raphaelites and the Pierpont Morgan Library.”


The Lower East Side is a true melting pot of New York City, where tenement buildings from the 1800s and brand new luxury buildings sit side by side. This area that once housed the newest waves of immigrants and many of the city’s sweatshop workers now boasts some of the hottest restaurants, art galleries, and nightlife in Manhattan. Join the Tenement Museum excursion for a visit to see where and how immigrant families lived, followed by a reception featuring food from the neighborhood and stories of American immigration and migration from Your Story, Our Story.


The Financial District is the oldest section of Manhattan, with iconic landmarks such as Bowling Green Park, site of the sale of the Island of Manhattan in 1626; Federal Hall, site of the first capitol of the United States; Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington gave his famous farewell speech; and the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, also the home of the National Museum of the American Indian. Join the excursion to the American Indian museum for a curator-led tour of the exhibit Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound as well as a private tour of the landmarked building and its history.


Each excursion registration comes with a round-trip MetroCard to facilitate your exploration.

Photo credits: Top photo, Central Park, by Matthew Knott via Flickr. Central photo, NYC View Looking South, and bottom photo, Wall Street, by Anastasia Courtney

Don’t Miss These Preconvention Workshops!

There’s time still to register for preconvention workshops at this year’s MLA convention in New York City! Many of these workshops focus on career development for members at all stages of their careers and provide opportunities for collaboration and hands-on learning.

Advocating for Your Department
Thursday, 4 January, 8:30–11:30 a.m., Gibson, Hilton
William Nichols, Georgia State U; Emily Todd, Westfield State U

ADE and ADFL presidents will lead a session helping participants become strong, effective advocates for their departments. Together, we will learn how to develop advocacy plans and develop strategies for publicizing department work, recruiting students, and integrating academic departments into campus and community life.

Marketing 101: How to Promote Your Academic Program or Event
Thursday, 4 January, 8:30–11:30 a.m., Gramercy East, Hilton
Siovahn Walker, MLA

The MLA’s director of outreach will lead a practical workshop on marketing academic events, focusing on do-it-yourself tools to promote conferences, public lecture series, and calls for proposals.

Pre-Texts Workshop Series
Thursday, 4 January, 8:30–11:30 a.m.; Friday, 5 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m.; and Saturday, 6 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m. (all three workshops take place in Liberty 3, Sheraton)
Doris Sommer, Harvard U; Jason Charles Courtmanche, U of Connecticut, Storrs

A workshop in collaboration with the Pre-Texts teacher training program will help you find new ways to approach your material by using complex literary texts as the pretext for making art. Our goal will be to use the difficulty of these texts as an opportunity for thought and expansive play, to help us find a motivating energy to carve out new paths in our teaching and research.

Advancing the Field: Connecting Humanities Graduate Education to Community College Teaching
Saturday, 6 January, 8:30–11:30 a.m., Concourse A, Hilton
Elizabeth Alsop, Graduate Center, City U of New York; Rachel Arteaga, U of Washington, Seattle

Increasingly, doctoral programs and community colleges have been working together to integrate their missions and to support equity and diversity in language and literature study. Faculty members, graduate students, and administrators will lead a discussion about the future of this collaboration, as well as a hands-on workshop designed to connect graduate pedagogical training to community college teaching.

Attendance is limited, so sign up when you register for the convention to reserve your spot! If you’ve already registered for the convention, you can e-mail Michael Reilly to sign up for a workshop.

Welcome to the 2018 MLA Annual Convention

Welcome to NYC


Welcome to NYC! The city is home not only to MLA HQ and most of my colleagues but to over a thousand MLA members. Native New Yorkers and new arrivals from every state and most countries in the world can be found here (all 8.5 million of us). As Whitman said, I am large, I contain multitudes.

You want modern languages? Head to Queens where 138 languages are spoken. Or just ride the subway—you’ll hear dozens!MLA Annual Convention in NYC

You want the cuisines of all those cultures? From Dominican in Washington Heights to Middle Eastern in Bay Ridge, from Korean in Midtown to Caribbean in Crown Heights, we’ve got you covered (don’t even ask about Flushing—you name it, they’ve got it). We invite all locals to share their favorite restaurants (’cause we’ve all got an opinion!).MLA 2018 Annual Convention

National monuments? From the African Burial Grounds in Lower Manhattan to Hamilton Grange in Harlem, from Stonewall in Greenwich Village to the Statue of Liberty, we’ve got history too.

Which brings me to this year’s convention logo—it’s no accident that the Statue of Liberty is featured. Like Lady Liberty, we welcome you!

The convention contains multitudes as well: over 800 sessions with more than 3,000 participants representing hundreds of institutions. You’ll find sessions in your field as well as many outside your usual area of expertise. We’re expanding our professional development offerings so that we can better support you in our ever changing world. Explore new ideas at the convention, spend time with old friends, and meet new colleagues. Be part of the MLA community and start the conversation here!






Top image © NYC & Company/Christopher Postlewaite. www.nycgo.com
Image collage, clockwise from top left: Thomas Hawk, Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin, Michael Muraz, Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

New Session Formats in 2018

The Executive Council, acting on the advice of the Program Committee, has approved several new formats for sessions at the convention as well as some changes to existing formats. We’re excited to launch these new ways for MLA members to discuss their work with one another at the 2018 convention in New York City. In this post, we’ll briefly introduce the new formats and the changes to existing formats; we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments section below.

What’s New?

In addition to our existing session formats—including formal panels, roundtables, workshops, and special events—we will in 2018 offer working groups and poster sessions.

Working Groups

Like the seminars offered at some other conferences, working groups will provide a means for a group of members to meet together to discuss their work in multiple sessions during the convention. Working groups can be proposed by any MLA member. Organizers must submit a call for participation by 28 February, which will be publicized to the membership on MLA Commons. The organizers will then identify a group of eight to twelve participants, who commit to meet on two or three mornings during the convention, and submit a proposal that will be evaluated by the Program Committee. Forums and other MLA entities may not submit a working group as one of their guaranteed sessions.

All approved working groups will be required to establish groups on MLA Commons, through which papers and other materials must be circulated to participants and auditors before the convention. Session time will then be used for very brief presentations and extended discussion rather than for the reading of papers. Working groups will be strongly encouraged to develop a collective project or outcome from their session.

Note that, because a working group extends over multiple sessions during the convention, participation will constitute multiple appearances in the program and will thus be subject to the limitations on convention participation. (Participants are limited to two appearances in the convention program.)

Poster Sessions

The existing electronic-roundtable session format has for several years functioned very successfully as a small-scale poster session, but in 2018 we are creating larger-scale poster sessions for presenters who are working on projects that may or may not be digital. Poster sessions such as these form important parts of many large conferences, bringing attendees together for lively one-on-one discussions.

Individual members may propose posters or project demonstrations highlighting work that may be pedagogical, institutional, or research-oriented. Proposals will be evaluated by the Program Committee. Presenters will be available during the poster session to discuss the projects with attendees. Presenters may bring their laptops to display their projects, if electronic, or bring posters for display.

What’s Changing?

In addition to the new session formats above, we are making a few changes to existing formats.


Roundtables are intended to focus on open discussion of broad scholarly or professional questions. As a result, we are strongly discouraging formal presentations during these sessions. Proposals must demonstrate an emphasis on engagement between panelists and attendees.


This year in Philadelphia, we were pleased to offer a rich slate of workshops, many of which focused on career development for participants with a wide range of interests and at various stages of their careers. We are encouraging the expansion of these offerings in 2018, and we are giving proposers an opportunity to present their workshops twice, if desired. Such workshops will likely be offered in two streams, on Thursday/Saturday and on Friday/Sunday, making it possible for more attendees to take advantage of these offerings.

Workshops should focus on hands-on learning and career development with clear takeaways for participants. We encourage advance registration, but walk-in attendance may be allowed, space permitting.



Philadelphia and Beyond

Thank you!

Tyler Sprague via Flicker

Tyler Sprague via Flickr

It’s been a little over two weeks now since the 2017 MLA Annual Convention ended in Philadelphia. I’d like to thank you all—attendees, presenters, facilitators, session organizers—for creating a wonderful meeting. Hundreds of sessions addressed the presidential theme, Boundary Conditions. We had a number of new initiatives, from K–16 partnerships to more workshops on professional issues. We expanded offerings from the Connected Academics project. And, of course, we had sessions on everything from Austen to zombies, thanks to the allied organizations, forums, MLA committees, and individual members who proposed and organized sessions.

If you haven’t done so already, please post your presentation to CORE and continue the conversations you started in Philadelphia on MLA Commons. And if you missed Kwame Anthony Appiah’s presidential address, we hope you’ll take the opportunity to listen to or read it online.

Many thanks to our exhibitors. They bring the latest publications, software, and services to attendees at great discounts, and I hope you were able to stop by one of their many receptions and book signings. Our exhibitors support authors and the convention by taking part—please continue to support them!

Thank you to the volunteers who helped greet and direct attendees. I hope you all had a chance to interact with them. We’ll be continuing this program next year.

There are many people behind the scenes at the convention: hotel workers, convention center staff members, audiovisual technicians, to name just a few. Every year they tell me how happy they are to have the MLA in town and how much they enjoy hosting you. Thank you for starting off their year on a great note!

So, now that you’ve all had a chance to catch your breath, what about next year? No, it’s not too early to start thinking about 2018 in New York City! The presidential theme for 2018 is #States of InsecurityCalls for papers can be posted and browsed now—the deadline for posting is 28 February. We’re especially looking for session proposals that fit into the new categories brought before the Delegate Assembly—check out the descriptions here and please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or ideas.

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