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The Modern Language Association of America (referred to as the Modern Language Association or 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] It has "30,000 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] Although founded in the United States, with offices located in New York City, the MLA's membership, concerns, reputation, and influence are international in scope.[1]



The MLA was founded in 1883,[1] at The Johns Hopkins University, 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).[citation needed]

Officers and governance

The officers of the MLA are elected by its members. The 2009 president was Catherine Porter, professor emerita of French at the State University of New York at Cortland.[2] The president for 2010 is Sidonie Smith, Martha Guernsey Colby Collegiate Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan.

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

Activities of the MLA

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,[citation needed] 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, and the third edition of this guide was published in May 2008. The MLA produces the print and online database, MLA International Bibliography, the standard bibliography in language and literature.

The MLA's official 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.

Since 1884 the MLA has held a national, four-day convention from December 27 to December 30. Beginning in 2011, the convention dates move to the first Thursday following 2 January and will be held from Thursday through Sunday. The 2011 convention dates are 6–9 January, to be held in Los Angeles. Approximately eight to ten 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;[citation needed] major university and many smaller college literature and language departments interview candidates for teaching positions at the convention,[citation needed] although hiring occurs all year long. In addition to its job-placement activities, the convention features about eight hundred 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 located in one of the main hotel or convention center exhibition areas.

Regional associations

There are several regional associations that are independent of the MLA. These organizations host smaller conventions at other times during the year. These associations are:

  • Midwest Modern Language Association (M/MLA)
  • Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA)
  • Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA)
  • Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association (RMMLA)
  • South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA)
  • South Central Modern Language Association (SCMLA)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e About the MLA", Modern Language Association, Modern Language Association, 9 July 2008. Web. 25 Apr. 2009.
  2. ^ Executive Council", Modern Language Association, MLA, 2009, Web, 25 Apr. 2009.

Further reading

  • Barber, Virginia. "The Women's Revolt in the MLA." Change Magazine Apr. 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. 4 February 2007.

External links



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