When the Modern Language Association (MLA) held its 2008 Convention in San Francisco this December Executive Director Rosemary Feal decided to blog the conference. Among the notable Convention experiences Feal covered were her packing supplies, flight experiences, community college workshops, “Welcome to the MLA” socials, and pedagogical seminars, and award ceremonies.
“I’m really looking forward to this convention, because it showcases what’s best about the MLA,” wrote Feal the day before the Convention started. “We are, first and foremost, an association of teachers.” She marks out sessions such as “a roundtable on politics and the classroom, a panel on the gap between sciences and humanities, and a session on teaching digital natives” as well as “a reading by three black South African women writers.”
As readers of this site already know, much, much more goes on at these conventions than meets the eye. In the spirit of Feal’s blog, Accuracy in Academia would like to offer its own, uncensored, top-ten list of this year’s MLA presentations:
1. Professor Robert Samuels claimed that a scene in Jurassic Park is about “the mother who attempts to toilet train and socialize the child.”2. At a panel on “Religion Today,” Professor Linda Kaufmann compared Pope Benedict XVI to Osama bin Laden.
3. Women’s Studies professor Rebecca A. Wanzo, suggested that the U.S. government’s decision to promote abstinence-only education is a human rights crime against women as severe as female genital mutilation.
4. Quoting from Rolling Stone articles and Barack Obama’s speeches, Professor Andrew William Smith devoted an entire speech to his conversion into this “big tent of hope with a political hero at the helm.”
5. Radical Teacher professors debated whether critical pedagogy requires teachers to be more open-minded when educating students.
6. Graduate student Kara Fontenot falsely claimed that members of the Communist Party USA had little connection to the USSR while furthering stereotypes about Senator Joseph McCarthy.*
7. According to Professor Teresa L. Ebert, who analyzed romance novels for her presentation, “fantasy functions through picture-thinking and in similar ways to religion’s holy trinity and garden narratives” while romances distract women from social justice and economic equality.
8. Professor Celia Daileader wrote an essay which attempts to subject Shakespeare to “a feminist taste test in which we will be tempted away from bardolatry” but then, falling ill, sent her male colleague to deliver the paper.
9. Spanish Professor Char Prieto lauded the legacy of the Stalin-backed Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
10. Marjorie Gabrielle Perloff used Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father as an example for why people should read literature.
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
*Please see updated comments here.