MLA Out of Touch with Reality

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

At the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention in Vancouver, Canada, the degree to which many professors are divorced from reality was brought into sharp focus.

Few panels at the conference that draws thousands of English professors from around the world actually dealt with literature but no matter what issue was discussed in the hundreds of panels at the MLA, professing panelists kept a safe distance from the real world:

  • When the MLA gets through with children’s literature, neither the kids nor their parents will recognize it. Apparently, there are books and illustrated guides, praising the likes of Marx and Lenin, Karl and Nikolai, that is. They “radicalize the reader relatively young,” Kenneth Kidd, a professor who teaches English, literature and researches queer and children studies at the University of Florida, said approvingly at the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention this year in Vancouver, Canada.
  • Professor Christine Probes, of the University of South Florida (USF), said that too often, universities now rely on statistics of their graduates’ production and their salaries after graduation. But, she claimed that USF graduates’ salaries compare to other fields and professions up to ten years after graduation.   So what are they supposed to do for the rest of that decade?
  • At the MLA, a pair of professors, Magali Armilla-Tiseyra, who teaches literature and postcolonial studies as an English professor at Ole Miss, and an assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona, Anne Garland Mahler, took a whack at geography. They divided the world into the “Global South,” primarily Latin America, and the “Global North,” primarily the United States, as a way of highlighting what they felt were damages inflicted upon the former by the latter. In so doing, they ignored the policies of such “global southerners” as Cuba’s Castro brothers, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez that have filled many a human rights report.
  • UC-Riverside professor David Lloyd, Bashir Abu-Manneh, who works at Brown University as a lecturer in Postcolonial Literature, and Saree Makdisi, a humanities professor at UCLA, gave clarion calls for Palestinian autonomy in the face of what they viewed as Israeli aggression. Of course, they ignored the November 2014 attacks upon an Israeli synagogue in which four people were killed by a pair of Palestinian gunman, an assault that was cheered by Palestinians the world over, particularly in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
 

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