Literature, Language and Culture
The Midwest Modern Language Association (MMLA) is a non-profit organization of teachers and scholars of literature, language, and culture. A regional affiliate of the Modern Language Association, the MMLA provides a forum for disseminating scholarship and improving teaching in the fields of literary and cultural criticism. Loyola University Chicago supports the mission of the MMLA by serving as its institutional host.
Upcoming Conference: 2022 MMLA Convention
November 17-20, 2022
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
1300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Please visit our convention page for more information regarding this event.
Keynote Speaker: Sarah Gendron
Below is a brief bio on Sarah Gendron, the Keynote Speaker for the 2022 MMLA Convention. Details regarding the title and content of her address will be forthcoming.
Sarah Gendron is Professor of French and Cultural Studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Gendron is the author of Reading Repetition in the Work of Samuel Beckett, Jacques Derrida, and Gilles Deleuze (2008) and The Co-Opting of Education by Extremist Factions: Professing Hate (2020). She has also authored several literary translations--one by Simone de Beauvoir and completed with Sylvie le Bon de Beauvoir, and the other a Goncourt-winning novel by Frédéric Brun--and numerous scholarly articles focusing on cultural propaganda, genocide, and gender studies. Gendron is currently conducting research for two book projects. Sponsored by a Fulbright Research Fellowship and a three-year Way Klingler Fellowship, the first book examines gender-based violence in conflict settings and the laws in place to prevent it. The second study explores the role of Irish women as political activists and paramilitary combatants in the fight for an Independent Ireland.
MMLA Message on Racial Justice
In light of recent police violence against African Americans and widespread protests against that violence, the MMLA Executive Committee seeks to voice its support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has six local chapters in the Midwest (including Chicago, Detroit, Lansing, Memphis, Nashville, and South Bend), and which invites the formation of additional local chapters as well. The Executive Committee also seeks to affirm all of the ways in which MMLA members voice their resistance to racial injustice. The MMLA is committed to continuing to provide a venue for activist scholarship that not only exposes the nature and extent of racial prejudice but also celebrates opposition to that prejudice and envisions a future of racial equity. We are in favor of deepening the study of the systemic racism that characterizes our social system, and we encourage the continued elaboration and clarification of what systemic racism truly means. We are heartened, furthermore, by the fact that antiracist protests are being carried out by young people, both white and of color, and we would thus welcome the study of youth-centered movements like these. In addition to being scholars of such topics, MMLA members are also educators in the humanities who therefore possess necessary tools and vital opportunities to challenge and dismantle racism and all systems of oppression. As an organization, the MMLA can not only encourage but also help facilitate discussions about antiracist pedagogy as an important form of activism that has a far greater impact than scholarship alone.
Accordingly, upcoming MMLA conferences and upcoming issues of the Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association will seek to feature scholarship that addresses the intersections of racism and literary culture, the meaning of systemic racism to individuals and their social institutions, the basis for youth-centered activism’s vital engagement with this issue, and the methods of antiracist pedagogy, so please consider the MMLA conference and journal as venues for sharing your work on these topics. The conference in particular will seek to provide more flexible new formats—such as workshops that extend beyond the timeframe of the conference itself—to create an enduring space that facilitates discussion and, importantly, listening on matters of implementing anti-racist pedagogy, racial inclusivity, and practices of solidarity among academics at all levels, including solidarity with African American scholars and teachers regardless of their research interests and regardless of whether their research is explicitly antiracist. We hope that by encouraging research, pedagogy, and solidarity that expose and oppose racial inequality, we will provide even more vital outlets for the felt need among MMLA members to address and remedy ongoing racial injustices.
We also recognize, however, that the MMLA’s encouragement of scholarly and pedagogical engagement with these issues is not a sufficient response to the urgency of the moment. The MMLA needs to scrutinize its own practices as well in order to identify ways in which its organizational structures might participate in and perpetuate racial exclusion. To this end, members of the Executive Committee will seek ways to increase the racial diversity of its membership by reaching out more effectively to scholars of color who wish to play a leadership role in the organization. The Executive Committee will also explore ways of revising its statement on member conduct in order to clarify the expectation that all members treat each other with dignity and respect, regardless of race. We will also seek more ways to give members the opportunity to assess how we are performing in this area, which will involve expanding our use of survey tools for this purpose. This list of action items is not exhaustive but, we recognize, just a starting point for work that is ongoing and collaborative, requiring the assistance of our membership as a whole. We look forward to engaging with you further as we promote reform of the MMLA itself toward the end of achieving a level of commitment to racial equality and justice that makes all MMLA members proud to call this organization their own.
The MMLA Executive Committee