Modern Language Association

From Academic Kids

The Modern Language Association of America (often abbreviated MLA) is the principal professional association in the United States for scholars of literature and literary criticism. It has about thirty thousand members, mostly professors, graduate students, and other academics, who study literature in English, comparative literature, and many foreign languages.

The MLA was founded in 1883 as a discussion and advocacy group for the study of literature and modern languages (that is, all but the classical languages, most prominently Latin and Greek).

Its current President is Robert Scholes, Professor Emeritus of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University.

Activities of the MLA

The MLA publishes several academic journals, including PMLA, one of the most prestigious journals in literary studies, and Profession, which discusses pedagogy in language and literature. It also publishes an MLA style manual.

It provides a website, the MLA Language Map, with overviews and detailed data from the United States 2000 Census about the locations and numbers of speakers of thirty languages and seven groups of less commonly spoken languages in the United States.

The MLA holds a national convention just after Christmas every year. An average of ten thousand members attend. The convention is the largest and most important of the year for scholars of literature; most university literature departments interview candidates for all their open jobs at the convention. In addition to hiring, hundreds of panel discussions and lectures on diverse topics fill the convention's four days from early morning until the evening. The name MLA is often used colloquially among academics to refer to this convention.

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