To show what college and university English Departments are really teaching,
Accuracy in Academia Executive Director Malcolm Kline and former AIA staff writer Julia Seymour compiled The (Real) MLA Stylebook: Highlights of the Modern Language Association’s 2005 Convention. Panel titles such as “Queering Faulkner,” “Marxism and Globalization,” and “What’s the Matter with Whiteness” reflected popular demand among tenured and starlet English professors alike who attended the meeting by the thousands.
What initially grabs the readers’ attention in The (Real) MLA Stylebook is the array of back-cover quotes, taken directly from the 2005 MLA Convention panels, pivoting around the supposed interracial relationship between King Kong and Fay Wray, blatant Communist propaganda, and the alleged link between the Abu Ghraib scandals and the American capitalist system:
• “There is an interracial relationship between King Kong and Fay Wray,” Dr. T. Meta Moore Lafferty of the University of Pennsylvania said. “It is allegorical of the black migration north and miscegenation.” With Lafferty’s hard evidence of “Xeroxed movie stills,” she enlightened and captivated her audience of 22, according to Kline.
• “Grover C. Furr of Montclair State University in New Jersey is making a cause of proving the innocence of Joseph Stalin, who presided over three decades of genocide in the Soviet Union,” says coauthor Malcolm Kline.
• “The pleasure of romance novels sets us up to accept the violence and carnage of Abu Ghraib,” Professor Teresa L. Ebert of the State University of New York at Albany said at the convention.
Meanwhile, Adolph Reed, Jr. from the University of Pennsylvania believes that higher education is currently under assault on five fronts:
1. Author and activist David Horowitz is “using freedom as a plug to intimidate faculty.”
2. The marketization or privatization of the university structure is causing the rise of “the notion of students as paying customers.”
3. There is a growing number of highly paid administrators who are not educators.
4. Private universities are growing.
5. A class struggle is going on because many faculty are part-time or adjunct.
Despite the MLA’s prominent Stylebook, used as a literary benchmark on all levels of academia, many English faculty expressed their disdain for the limitations of correct styles and forms of writing.
*Dr. Mary Boland of California State-San Bernadino addressed the big picture at the MLA convention panel. “We’ve got to reject the commonplace, but bankrupt idea about literacy and composition…Academic freedom is at stake.”
*Professor Mary Blockley teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. She claims that “the study of semantics usually reveals the student’s lack of grammar…Don’t use syntax to beat up on people…A sentence fragment can mean one thing in writing and another in speaking.”
The (Real) MLA Stylebook is available from the AIM store.
Mary Kapp is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run jointly by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia. An English major at Liberty University, she has never had the opportunity to be taught by an MLA regular, which gives us yet another reason to recommend the college of Mary’s choice