MLA Vocabulary Contest

, Malcolm A. Kline, 2 Comments

There is at least one way in which the Modern Language Association (MLA) that thousands of English professors belong to lives up to its name: they traverse in a vocabulary most of us working stiffs would never contemplate employing informally, or even formally.

Here is a sampling of what we got to hear for four solid days at their annual convention in Philadelphia, with a challenge at the end:

  • “An alternate way of thinking about thinking.”
  • “dialectical thinking about thought.”
  • “inscrutability about intentionality.”
  • “materialist environmentalism”
  • “flat ontologies.”
  • “analogically affirms.”
  • “flattened ontology”
  • “Undermines transcendant notions of the literary”
  • “fluidity of knowledge in an MLA paper”
  • “relations of instinct to intentionality.”
  • “genitive experiences”
  • “hegemonic systems”
  • “interstices”
  • “The General Imaginary”
  • “Zombie Capitalism”
  • “toxic masculinities”
  • “Queer Utopia”
  • “Intersectionality of identities”

Now, here’s the challenge: If you can work any five of these words or phrases into a sentence, we will send you one of our little Donald Trump coloring books. For some reason, we got no takers on this at the MLA’s academic conference.

Go figure! And we thought they loved coloring books 🙂