World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Modern Language Association

The Modern Language Association of America, often referred to as the Modern Language Association (MLA), is the principal academic scholars, professors, and graduate students who study or teach language and literature, including English, other modern languages, and comparative literature.[1][2] Although founded in the United States, with offices in New York City, the MLA's membership, concerns, reputation, and influence are international in scope.[1]


  • History 1
  • Officers and governance 2
  • Activities 3
  • Regional associations 4
  • Affiliated and Allied Societies 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


The MLA was founded in 1883, as a discussion and advocacy group for the study of literature and modern languages (that is, all but classical languages, such as ancient Latin and Greek).[1] According to its profile featured by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), "The Modern Language Association is formed for educational, scientific, literary, and social objects and purposes, and more specifically for the promotion of the academic and scientific study of English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and other so-called modern languages and literatures."[2]

Officers and governance

The officers of the MLA are elected by its members. The president in 2011 was Russell A. Berman (Stanford University and Hoover Institution); the first vice president was Michael Bérubé (Pennsylvania State University), who assumed the MLA presidency in 2012; and the second vice president was Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University), who advanced to first vice president in 2012 and became MLA President in 2013. Margaret W. Ferguson was elected second vice president of the MLA in December 2011; she will serve as president from January 2014 through January 2015.[3]

The MLA is governed by an Executive Council, elected periodically by its members, according to the MLA Constitution (official MLA website).


The MLA publishes several academic journals, including Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (abbreviated as PMLA), one of the most prestigious journals in literary studies, and Profession, which discusses the professional issues faced by teachers of language and literature. The association also publishes the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, a guide that is geared toward high school and undergraduate students and has sold more than 6,500,000 copies. The MLA Style Manual is geared toward graduate students, scholars, and professional writers; the third edition was published in May 2008. The MLA produces the print and online database, MLA International Bibliography, the standard bibliography in language and literature.[4]

The MLA's official website features the MLA Language Map, which presents overviews and detailed data from the United States 2000 Census about the locations and numbers of speakers of thirty languages and seven groups of less commonly spoken languages in the United States and Canada.

Since 1884 the MLA has held a national, four-day convention. Beginning in 2011, the convention dates moved to the first Thursday following 2 January. Approximately eight to twelve thousand members attend, depending on the location, which alternates among major cities in various regions of the United States. The MLA Annual Convention is the largest and most important of the year for scholars of languages and literature. Language departments of many universities and colleges interview candidates for teaching positions at the convention, although hiring occurs all year long.

In addition to its job-placement activities, the convention features about 800 sessions, including presentations of papers and panel discussions on diverse topics (special sessions, forums, poetry readings, film presentations, interdisciplinary studies involving art and music, governance meetings) and social events hosted by English and language departments and allied or affiliated organizations.[1] There are also extensive book exhibits in one of the main hotel or convention center exhibition areas.

In later years the association has highlighted issues such as race, gender and class in its professional deliberations. Kimball and Kramer argue that this was part of a "rampant politicization of literary study that the MLA has aggressively supported" in American colleges and universities, including elevating popular culture to a position of parity with great works of literature as subjects for classroom study, and other "radical" postures.[5]

Regional associations

There are several regional associations that are independent of the primary MLA, and which host smaller conventions at other times of the year:

  • Midwest Modern Language Association
  • Northeast Modern Language Association
  • Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
  • Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association
  • South Atlantic Modern Language Association
  • South Central Modern Language Association

Affiliated and Allied Societies

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e About the MLA",, Modern Language Association, 9 July 2008, Web, 25 April 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Modern Language Association of America", in "ACLS Member Learned Societies" (Directory), American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), 2011, Web, 31 January 2011.
  3. ^ "MLA Officers and Members of the Executive Council", Modern Language Association, MLA, 2011, Web, 21 January 2011.
  4. ^ "eReviews: MLA International Bibliography,", Library Journal, September 1, 2012 
  5. ^ Farewell to the MLA", Roger Kimball and Hilton Kramer, New Criterion, February 1995. Web.

Further reading

  • Barber, Virginia. "The Women's Revolt in the MLA". Change Magazine April 1972. Rpt. in Women on Campus: The Unfinished Liberation. Ed. George W. Bonham. Introd. Elizabeth Janeway. Somerset, NJ: Transaction, 2006. 85–94. ["The Modern Language Association is finally opening its doors to professional women and their demands for reform."]
  • Howe, Florence, Frederick C. Crews, Louis Kampf, Noam Chomsky, Paul Lauter, and Richard Ohmann. "Reforming the MLA." Letter to the editor. New York Review of Books 19 December 1968. Web. 4 February 2007.
  • Kimball, Roger. Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education. New York: Harper & Row, 1990. Rev. ed. Chicago: Elephant Paperbacks (Ivan R. Dee), 1998. ISBN 1-56663-195-5. ISBN 978-1-56663-195-2. Print.

External links

  • Official website
  • Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, 1884-  (fulltext via Hathi Trust)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.