MLA Creates a New Word and World, Apparently

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Somewhat true to its name, the Modern Language Association (MLA) has transformed the word “imaginary” from an adjective into a noun.

Photo by JeffaCubed

Photo by JeffaCubed

“In the dominant United States imaginary, some children are more sacred than others,” Sarah Ropp of the University of Texas at Austin said at an MLA panel on “The Profane West.” She cited the recent refugee crisis as evidence of this “imaginary,” without mentioning what percentage of the refugees are actually children. Ropp’s interests are “20th and 21st century Spanish, Dutch and multi-ethnic American literature; children and childhood; memory and trauma; pedagogy; translation.”

Actually, Ropp’s peers on the panel may have had even more vivid imaginations. “The goal of capitalism is to get money from everyone,” Michael A. Smith of Duquesne University said. His conclusion flies in the face of the actual definition of a free market, a more accurate term than capitalism, and more removed from Das Kapital: the exchange of goods and services.

For her part, the professor presiding over the panel, Kerry Fine, is “particularly interested in issues of race, gender, and place/environment.”

“My current project builds on my dissertation to explore the cultural myths, tropes, and spaces deployed in the figuration of the American frontier and the US/Mexico borderlands. While my dissertation examined the wild popularity of monster narratives in our present cultural moment, my current project more specifically investigates both how monster narratives are deployed in the ongoing Othering of the non-Anglo American and how minority authors subvert the figure of the monster to reconfigure American identities and spaces in a postcolonial, postmodern moment.”