Modern Language Association

The Modern Language Association of America, often referred to as the Modern Language Association (MLA), is the principal professional association in the United States for scholars of language and literature. The MLA aims to "strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature".[1] The organization includes over 25,000 members in 100 countries, primarily 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]

Modern Language Association of America
MLA logo
MottoScholarship, Teaching, Service
FounderAaron Marshall Elliott
TypeNon-profit organization
PurposeLearned society
HeadquartersNew York, United States
Coordinates40°42′14.4″N 74°00′40.4″W / 40.704000°N 74.011222°WCoordinates: 40°42′14.4″N 74°00′40.4″W / 40.704000°N 74.011222°W
FieldsLanguage, literature
Membership (2016)
Official language
Anne Ruggles Gere
Paula M. Krebs
AffiliationsThe International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures (FILLM)
Budget (2016)
Expenses (2016)$15,644,948
Endowment (2016)$4,290,369


Aaron Marshall Elliott
Aaron Marshall Elliott (pictured) has been credited with founding the Modern Language Association.

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 2017 president is Diana Taylor, and the first vice president is Anne Ruggles Gere, who will advance to president in 2018. The 2017 second vice president is Simon Gikandi.

The MLA is governed by an Executive Council, elected periodically by its members, according to the MLA Constitution. The Executive Director is Paula Krebs.[3]


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 is now published online on MLA Commons and discusses professional issues faced by teachers of language and literature. The association also publishes the MLA Handbook, a guide that is geared toward high school and undergraduate students and has sold more than 6,500,000 copies. An eighth edition was published in spring 2016. The MLA Style Manual was geared toward graduate students, scholars, and professional writers, and the third edition was declared out of print in September 2016. The MLA produces the online database, MLA International Bibliography, the standard bibliography in language and literature.[4]

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. The organization's Job Information List (JIL) is available online.[5][6][7][8][9]

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 November 2016, the association launched Humanities Commons, an open-access, crossdisciplinary hub for anyone interested in humanities research and scholarship. Other not-for-profit organizations involved in this project include College Art Association; Association for Jewish Studies; and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

The MLA's Web site 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.

The association has highlighted issues such as race, gender and class in its professional deliberations.[10] In The New Criterion, Roger Kimball and Hilton Kramer have argued 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.[11]


The association has been criticized by some for considering the proposal of an academic boycott of Israel, in December 2016.[12] The proposed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution was met with backlash from scholars, lawyers, and organizations that denounced its sentiments and potential illegality.[13] The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law issued a letter to the association's President Kwame Anthony Appiah and Executive Director Rosemary G. Feal, warning the association that the resolution was ultra vires.[14][15] The MLA rejected the boycott in a 113 to 79 vote during its annual meeting in January 2017.[16]

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. ^ "Modern Language Association of America Names La Salle University Alumna Paula M. Krebs, Ph.D., Executive Director". La Salle News. 8 June 2017. La Salle University. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  4. ^ "eReviews: MLA International Bibliography", Library Journal, September 1, 2012
  5. ^ Burton, Antoinette (2003). After the Imperial Turn: Thinking with and through the Nation. Duke UP. p. 90. ISBN 9780822384397.
  6. ^ Formo, Dawn M.; Reed, Cheryl (2012). Job Search in Academe: How to Get the Position You Deserve. Stylus. p. 4. ISBN 9781579225384.
  7. ^ Wood, Maren; Brock Read (16 September 2014). "Are More MLA Faculty Jobs on the Way?". Chronicle Vitae. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  8. ^ Flaherty, Colleen (21 December 2012). "English Down, Languages Up: Report reveals divergent trends in modern language job market". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  9. ^ Hume, Kathryn (2010). Surviving Your Academic Job Hunt: Advice for Humanities PhDs. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 21. ISBN 9781137068293.
  10. ^ Kushner, Eva (2003). "The Modern Language Association of America". Diogenes. 50 (2): 136–137. doi:10.1177/039219210305000217.
  11. ^ Farewell to the MLA", Roger Kimball and Hilton Kramer, New Criterion, February 1995. Web.
  12. ^ "Resolution". MLA Members for Justice in Palestine. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  13. ^ Speyer, Lea (3 January 2017). "Prominent Scholars Slam Modern Language Association for Entertaining 'Shameful' BDS Resolution, Politicizing Academia". Algemeiner. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  14. ^ Palumbo-Liu, David (27 December 2016). "Brandeis Center Threatens Lawsuit Against Academic Organization for Supporting Call for Palestinian Rights". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  15. ^ "LDB to MLA: Drop Ultra Vires Boycott Resolution". Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  16. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (7 January 2017). "Modern Language Association Moves to Reject Academic Boycott of Israel". New York Times. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  17. ^ "News: The Modern Language Association Joins FILLM!". FILLM. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  18. ^ "Organizational Memberships". Modern Language Association. Retrieved 2016-09-19.

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.
  • Kushner, Eva. "The Modern Language Association of America". Diogenes 50.2 (2003): 135-138. Web. 1 July 2016.

External links

American Literature (journal)

American Literature is a literary journal published by Duke University Press. It is sponsored by the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association (of America), known as the MLA. The current editors are Priscilla Wald and Matthew A. Taylor. The first volume of this journal was published in March 1929.Coverage includes the contributions and works of American authors. Temporal coverage is from the colonial period until present day. Publishing formats also include book review, and relevant announcements (conferences, grants, and publishing opportunities). A citations index is also part of this journal. The index is for future issues and reprints, collections, anthologies, and professional books.

Bright Lights Film Journal

Bright Lights Film Journal is an online popular-academic film magazine, based in Oakland, California, United States. It is edited and published by Gary Morris.

Originally a print publication established in 1974, it was discontinued in 1980 to be restarted and re-discontinued in 1993 and 1995 respectively. The magazine moved to online publishing exclusively in 1996 and has continued publication ever since. It is indexed in academic research databases such as MLA (Modern Language Association) ProQuest and the Film & Television Literature Index.In 2009, select interviews from the journal were compiled in a print anthology, Action!: Interviews with Directors from Classical Hollywood to Contemporary Iran, published by Anthem Press as part of its "New Perspectives on World Cinema" series.

Celtic literature

In the strictly academic context of Celtic studies, the term Celtic literature is used by Celticists to denote any number of bodies of literature written in a Celtic language, encompassing the Irish, Welsh, Cornish, Manx, Scottish Gaelic and Breton languages in either their modern or earlier forms.

Alternatively, the term is often used in a popular context to refer to literature which is written in a non-Celtic language, but originates nonetheless from the Celtic nations or else displays subjects or themes identified as "Celtic". Examples of these literatures include the medieval Arthurian romances written in the French language, which drew heavily from Celtic sources, or in a modern context literature in the English language by writers of Irish, Welsh, Cornish, Manx, Scottish or Breton extraction. Literature in Scots and Ulster Scots may also be included within the concept. In this broader sense, the applicability of the term "Celtic literature" can vary as widely as the use of the term "Celt" itself.

For information on the development of particular national literatures, see: Irish literature, Scottish literature, Welsh literature, Cornish literature, Breton literature and Manx literature.

Children's Literature (journal)

Children’s Literature is an academic journal and annual publication of the Modern Language Association and the Children’s Literature Association Division on Children's Literature. The journal was founded in 1972 by Francelia Butler and promotes a scholarly approach to the study of children’s literature by printing theoretical articles and essays, as well as book reviews. The publication is currently edited by Amanda Cockrell, of Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. The current editor in chief is R. H. W. Dillard.

Children's Literature is published annually in May by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Each issue has an average length of 300 pages.

Chinese language and varieties in the United States

Chinese languages, mostly Cantonese, are collectively the third most-spoken language in the United States, and are mostly spoken within Chinese-American populations and by immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, especially in California and New York. Over 2 million Americans speak varieties of Chinese, with Mandarin becoming increasingly common due to immigration from mainland China and to some extent Taiwan. Despite being called dialects or varieties, Cantonese, Taishanese, and Mandarin etc. are not mutually intelligible. When asked census forms and surveys, respondents will only answer with "Chinese".According to data reported on the 2000 US Census long-form, 259,750 people spoke "Cantonese", with 58.62% percent residing in California and the next most with 16.19% in New York. The actual number of Cantonese speakers was probably higher. In the 1982-83 school year, 29,908 students in California were reported to be using Cantonese as their primary home language. Approximately 16,000 of these students were identified as limited English proficient (LEP).According to data reported on the 2000 US Census long-form, 84,590 people spoke "Taiwanese Hokkien". The county with the most Hokkien speakers was Los Angeles County with 21,990 (0.250% of County population) followed by Orange County with 5,855 (0.222% of County population). The county with the highest percentage of Hokkien speakers was Calhoun County, Texas at 0.845% (160) followed by Fort Bend County, Texas at 0.286% (935) and Los Angeles County, California. According to data collected from 2005-2009 by the American Community Survey, 76,822 people spoke Taiwanese Hokkien.In New York City, although Standard Mandarin Chinese is spoken as a native language among only ten percent of Chinese speakers, it is used as a secondary dialect and is replacing Cantonese as their lingua franca. In addition, immigration from Fujian, particularly Fuzhou is bringing an increasingly large number of Eastern Min speakers. Wu varieties like Shanghainese and Suzhounese, and the mutually unintelligible Wenzhounese are now spoken by a minority of recent Chinese immigrants hailing from Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai.Although Chinese Americans grow up learning English, some teach their children Chinese for a variety of reasons including preservation of an ancient civilization, preservation of a unique identity, pride in their cultural ancestry, desire for easy communication with them and other relatives, and the perception that Chinese will be a useful language as China's economic strength increases. Cantonese, historically the language of most Chinese immigrants, was the third most widely spoken non-English language in the United States in 2004. Many Chinese schools have been established to accomplish these goals. Most of them have classes only once a week on the weekends, however especially in the past there have been schools that met every day after normal school.

A 2006 survey by the Modern Language Association found that Chinese accounted for 3% of foreign language class enrollment in the United States, making it the seventh most commonly learned foreign languages in the United States. Most Chinese as foreign language classes teach simplified characters and Standard Mandarin Chinese.

About 40% of all Chinese-speakers in the United States live in California.

English studies

English studies (usually called simply English) is an academic discipline taught in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education in English-speaking countries; it is not to be confused with English taught as a foreign language, which is a distinct discipline. English includes: the study of literature written in the English language (especially novels, short stories, and poetry), the majority of which comes from Britain, the United States, and Ireland (although English-language literature from any country may be studied, and local or national literature is usually emphasized in any given country); English composition, including writing essays, short stories, and poetry; English language arts, including the study of grammar, usage, and style; and English sociolinguistics, including discourse analysis of written and spoken texts in the English language, the history of the English language, English language learning and teaching, and the study of World Englishes. English linguistics (syntax, morphology, phonetics, phonology, etc.) is usually treated as a distinct discipline, taught in a department of linguistics.

The disciplinary divide between a dominant literature or usage orientation is one motivation for the division of the North American Modern Language Association (MLA) into two subgroups. At universities in non-English-speaking countries, the same department often covers all aspects of English studies, including linguistics: this is reflected, for example, in the structure and activities of the European Society for the Study of English (ESSE).

It is common for departments of English to offer courses and scholarship in the areas of the English language, literature (including literary criticism and literary theory), public speaking and speech-writing, rhetoric, composition studies, creative writing, philology and etymology, journalism, poetry, publishing, literacy, area studies (especially American studies), the philosophy of language, theater and play-writing, screenwriting, communication studies, technical communication, cultural studies, critical theory, gender studies, ethnic studies, disability studies, digital media and electronic publishing, film studies and other media studies, and various courses in the liberal arts and humanities, among others. In most English-speaking countries, the study at all educational levels of texts produced in non-English languages takes place in other departments, such as departments of foreign language or of comparative literature.

Goethe Society of North America

The Goethe Society of North America (GSNA) was founded in December 1979 in San Francisco as a non-profit organization dedicated to the encouragement of research on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) and his age.The Goethe Society has allied organization status with the Modern Language Association (MLA), the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS), and the German Studies Association (GSA).

Learned society

A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organisation that exists to promote an academic discipline, profession, or a group of related disciplines such as the arts. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honour conferred by election.Most learned societies are non-profit organisations, and many are professional associations. Their activities typically include holding regular conferences for the presentation and discussion of new research results and publishing or sponsoring academic journals in their discipline. Some also act as professional bodies, regulating the activities of their members in the public interest or the collective interest of the membership.


Lituanus is an English language quarterly journal dedicated to Lithuanian and Baltic languages, linguistics, political science, arts, history, literature, and related topics. It is published by the non-profit Lituanus Foundation, Inc., and has a worldwide circulation of about 3,000 copies per issue. The first issue was published in 1954 in Chicago, Illinois. Many of the back issues are available free of charge on its website. Its ISSN number is ISSN 0024-5089.

Lituanus is abstracted in two internationally recognized abstract services: MLA (Modern Language Association) and IPSA (International Political Science Association). Over the last fifty years its most frequent editor has been Professor (now Emeritus) Antanas Klimas of the University of Rochester. The journal has featured articles by Czesław Miłosz, Tomas Venclova, Vytautas Kavolis, Jurgis Baltrušaitis, and Vytautas Landsbergis.

MLA Handbook

The MLA Handbook (8th ed., 2016), formerly the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (1977–2009) is a publication of the United States-based Modern Language Association. According to the organization, their MLA style "has been widely adopted for classroom instruction and used worldwide by scholars, journal publishers, and academic and commercial presses".The MLA Handbook began as an abridged student version of the MLA Style Manual. Both are academic style guides that have been widely used in the United States, Canada, and other countries, providing guidelines for writing and documentation of research in the humanities, such as English studies (including the English language, writing, and literature written in English); the study of other modern languages and literatures, including comparative literature; literary criticism; media studies; cultural studies; and related disciplines. Released in April 2016, the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook (like its previous editions) is addressed primarily to secondary-school and undergraduate college and university teachers and students.MLA announced in April 2016 MLA Handbook will henceforth be "the authoritative source for MLA style", and that the 2008 third edition of the MLA Style Manual would be the final edition of the larger work. The announcement also stated that the organization "is in the process of developing additional publications to address the professional needs of scholars."

MLA Style Manual

The MLA Style Manual, titled the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing in its second (1998) and third edition (2008), was an academic style guide by the United States-based Modern Language Association of America (MLA) first published in 1985. MLA announced in April 2016 that the publication would be discontinued: the third edition would be the last and was to be “taken out of print”. The announcement also said that what began as an abridged version for students, the MLA Handbook, was to be thenceforth “the authoritative source for MLA style", and that the organization was "in the process of developing additional publications to address the professional needs of scholars."

Miami Gardens, Florida

Miami Gardens is a city located in north-central Miami-Dade County, Florida. Its boundaries stretch from I-95 and NE 2nd Avenue on the east, to NW 47th and NW 57th Avenues on the west, and from the Broward County line on the north, to 151st Street on the south. The city name comes from one of the major roadways through the area, Miami Gardens Drive. According to the 2017 estimate from the US Census Bureau, the city had a population of 113,750, and it is the largest city in Florida that has a majority African American population. It is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6,012,331 people at the 2015 census.

Parenthetical referencing

Parenthetical referencing, also known as Harvard referencing, is a citation style in which partial citations—for example, "(Smith 2010, p. 1)"—are enclosed within parentheses and embedded in the text, either within or after a sentence. They are accompanied by a full, alphabetized list of citations in an end section, usually titled "references", "reference list", "works cited", or "end-text citations". Parenthetical referencing can be used in lieu of footnote citations (the Vancouver system).

There are two styles of parenthetical referencing:

Author–date: primarily used in the natural sciences and social sciences, and recommended by the American Chemical Society and the American Psychological Association (APA);

Author–title or author–page: primarily used in the arts and the humanities, and recommended by the Modern Language Association (MLA).

South Atlantic Review

The South Atlantic Review is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. It was established in 1935 and publishes articles and reviews in the fields of language and literature. As of Summer 2014, its editor-in-chief is Barton Palmer.

Speculum (journal)

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies is a quarterly academic journal published by University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Medieval Academy of America. It was established in 1926 and today is widely regarded as the most prestigious journal in medieval studies. The journal's primary focus is on the time period from 500 to 1500 in Western Europe, but also on related subjects such as Byzantine, Hebrew, Arabic, Armenian and Slavic studies. As of 2016, the editor is Sarah Spence.

The organization and its journal were first proposed in 1921 at a meeting of the Modern Language Association, and the journal's focus was interdisciplinary from its beginning, with one reviewer noting a specific interest in Medieval Latin.

Style guide

A style guide or manual of style is a set of standards for the writing, formatting and design of documents. It is often called a style sheet, although that term may have other meanings. These standards can be applied either for general use, or be required usage for an individual publication, a particular organization, or a specific field.

A style guide establishes standard style requirements to improve communication by ensuring consistency both within a document, and across multiple documents. Because practices vary, a style guide may set out standards to be used in areas such as punctuation, capitalization, citing sources, formatting of numbers and dates, table appearance and other areas. The style guide may require certain best practices in usage, language composition, visual composition, orthography and typography. For academic and technical documents, a guide may also enforce the best practice in ethics (such as authorship, research ethics, and disclosure), pedagogy (such as exposition and clarity), and compliance (technical and regulatory).

Style guides are specialized in a variey of ways, from the general use of a broad public audience, to a wide variety of specialized uses, such as for students and scholars of various academic disciplines, medicine, journalism, the law, government, business in general, and specific industries. The term house style refers to the individual style manual of a particular publisher or organization.

Walter J. Ong

Walter Jackson Ong (November 30, 1912 – August 12, 2003) was an American Jesuit priest, professor of English literature, cultural and religious historian and philosopher. His major interest was in exploring how the transition from orality to literacy influenced culture and changed human consciousness. In 1978 Ong served as elected president of the Modern Language Association.

West Park, Florida

West Park, officially the City of West Park, is a municipality in Broward County, Florida, United States. It was created on March 1, 2005. It is located in the southeastern part of the county and consists of the neighborhoods of Carver Ranches, Lake Forest, Miami Gardens (Broward County), and Utopia. A large portion of the city lies west of the town of Pembroke Park, so the new city was called "West Park". With a population of 14,156 as of the 2010 census, the city is bordered by Miami-Dade County on the south, Pembroke Park on the east, Hollywood on the north and Miramar on the west.

William Blake Archive

The William Blake Archive is a digital humanities project first created in 1996. The project is sponsored by the Library of Congress and supported by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Inspired by the Rossetti Archive, the archive provides digital reproductions of the various works of William Blake, a prominent Romantic-period poet, artist, and engraver, alongside annotation, commentary and scholarly materials related to Blake.When publishing his poetry, William Blake would create print block illustrations for his book, print his books in black and white and then hand paint the illustrations within the prints. Furthermore, many of his works underwent multiple editions of printing, each with unique variations in the prints used to illustrate the poems and the poems themselves. Because of this complex process and the quality of his art, his art and poetry has been highly sought by collectors and scholars. The archive, as a digital humanities project, provides high quality digital copies of the facsimiles, providing scholars and students an opportunity to see the complexity of his published works often not available by viewing the scholarly print editions.The archive has been peer reviewed by the Modern Language Association in 2005 and the Multimedia Educational Tools for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) process in 2010. MERLOT highly recommended the use of the tool for teaching, praising the access to primary sources it provides; however, they also noted the need for educators to create instructional materials on how to use the site and the ease by which someone could get lost. Scholars have also written a number of educational case studies on how to use the archive.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.