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.
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 systematic 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
Announcing the Keynote Speaker for the Fall 2020 Convention: Anna Kornbluh!
“Cultures of Collectivity"
Anna Kornbluh, Associate Professor and Associate Head of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space (University of Chicago 2019), Marxist Film Theory and Fight Club (Bloomsbury "Film Theory in Practice” series, 2019), and Realizing Capital: Financial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form (Fordham UP 2014). Essays on literature, psychoanalysis, feminism, presentism, and tv have appeared or are forthcoming in Novel: A Forum on Fiction, Diacritics, Criticism, Theory&Event, LA Review of Books, and elsewhere, She is the founding facilitator of two scholarly cooperatives: V21 Collective and InterCcECT.
Submit an Article for the Spring 2020 Journal! The MMLA is now accepting submissions in English, Spanish, French, or German!
This issue is entitled "“Life in the MiddleConsuming Cultures” and the CFP can be found here. The deadline for submissions is April 29, 2020.
Register for the Fall 2020 Convention!
All attendees must be members of the association to attend the convention. The deadline for convention presenters to pre-register is September 1st, 2020. Please register via Mail or online through 123SignUp: