Parting Shots on MLA

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Hanging out with professors can sometimes give you an idea of trends in higher education. Here’s what I noticed at the 2012 Modern Language Association (MLA) meeting: Although politically more subdued than in years past, the MLA is, to put it mildly, not likely to become a Republican bastion anytime soon.

Nevertheless, despite the pivotal role it played in organizing the Occupy protests, the visible signs of the decline in influence of the Radical Caucus of the MLA are quite striking:

  1. At the 2006 meeting in Philadelphia, the Radical MLA Caucus fielded about a half a dozen panels in the group’s program. This year, the Radical MLA Caucus showcased three panels.
  2. In 2006, the Radical MLA Caucus held its strategy session in a hotel ballroom. This year, they held it in Grover Furr’s hotel room. Furr is the English professor from Montclair State University in New Jersey who claimed that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had been framed of the murder of thousands of Russians. Could the Occupy movement be the last hurrah of the Radical Caucus?

As well, its three panels notwithstanding, the LGBT crowd was virtually MIA at the MLA. The only sign of its presence that I noted was in the person of a nice young lady who stopped me outside the convention center and asked if I wanted to help stop anti-Gay bullying.

I told her, “I promise not to do any myself.” I’ll bet she’s still cogitating on that one.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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