[Milton-L] MLA Division Structure Discussion

Ng, Su Fang ngsf at ou.edu
Fri Sep 13 10:59:59 EDT 2013


Dear fellow Miltonists:

This issue also came up among the medievalists, as they too were asked to consolidate. In response they wrote a letter of protest. I do not know what the outcome was.

I do agree with Gregory Machacek that it is part of canon reformation and modernization. It was interesting to read the questions that the MLA posed to the medieval group. I cut and paste the questions below:


Questions for Your Consideration

Please note that we are considering the formation of several new comparative divisions that might be relevant to your area; please send us your thoughts about your possible inclusion in divisions on hemispheric, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Pacific, Indian Ocean, and indigeneity.

Are you satisfied with the large category English, or would you favor a change to British?

Given the disproportionate number of divisions in English in relation to other fields like African and East Asian, would you consider consolidating with Old English Language and Literature and with Middle English Language and Literature, Excluding Chaucer? What would such a division be called? Old and Middle English? Early English? Should Chaucer studies continue to be a separate division?


It very much seems to me that the MLA is reenvisioning the disciplines along more transnational and comparative to see cultures and literatures in interaction with each other, and especially around oceanic spaces. Given how international Milton was, perhaps we should see such changes as opportunities to highlight new things about old canons?

Best,
Su Fang Ng
Not yet Professor of Olde
(Associate Professor
University of Oklahoma)


________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Gregory Machacek [Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu]
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2013 8:56 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] MLA Division Structure Discussion

We should no doubt oppose this, but our resistance is likely futile.  This is driven by larger forces than MLA structure. One of John Guillory's best points about the dynamics of canon formation is that canon-reforming is always effectively modernization.  As we add whole new categories of things worth studying, new things worth studying, to our departmental offerings (world literatures in English, film, rap, video games), there simply is less time (in class sessions, in syllabi, in curricula, in MLA panels) for older things.  Older periods will always be in a process of being reconfigured like this:  two into one.  Depending on the size of your school, you no longer have an Old English specialist, a Middle English specialist and a Chaucerian, but a Medievalist.  "Early Modern" long ago started conflating what once was Renaissance, Age of Milton and Eighteenth century--conceptually and in terms of number of course offerings and number of faculty covering these periods.

One of the most remarkable of these conflations is programs of Medieval and Renaissance studies.  From the age of Petrarch until maybe thirty years ago, no imaginary historical line was felt to be more stark than the one dividing Dante and Petrarch.  The foremost achievement of the Renaissance was, agruably, the premise that divided Western history into three epochs: Classical, Modern and that intervening one.  Now Early Modernists feel common cause with Medievalists.  Why?  Because what both of them teach is "Old English" from the point of view of the Later Modern that so facinates so many.

I started my career twenty years ago thinking I would be a specialist in the Seventeenth Century.  I have become an Early Modernist.  Before I retire, I will be a Professor of Olde.

Greg Machacek
Professor of English
Marist College


-----milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu wrote: -----
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
From: Hannibal Hamlin
Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
Date: 09/13/2013 08:40AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] MLA Division Structure Discussion

Dear Jameela,

Just for clarification, and thinking of Bob's honest question, is it really true that this proposed reorganization would jeopardize Milton panels at MLA? I pose this honestly (naively?) myself. To what extent has the current panel structure helped Milton panels in the past, or do these panels get organized, selected largely independently? I have other objections to the reperiodization proposed, but I guess I'm wondering actual practical implications in terms of MLA business. I suppose I'd best have a look at the Commons discussion too! Ah well.

Hannibal





On Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 7:34 AM, Jameela Lares <jameela.lares at usm.edu<mailto:jameela.lares at usm.edu>> wrote:
Bob,

Thanks for your post.  If you care about Milton, then yes, you should care that the chance of his being at discussed/celebrated in MLA panels might effectively be cut in half.

Jameela Lares
Professor of English
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
601 266-4319<tel:601%20266-4319> ofc
601 266-5757<tel:601%20266-5757> fax
________________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>] on behalf of Bob Blair [bblair48 at yahoo.com<mailto:bblair48 at yahoo.com>]
Sent: Thursday, September 12, 2013 9:18 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] MLA Division Structure Discussion

I ask this as one who has been divorced from academic politics for many years:  is the MLA relevant to our discussions, or to discussions of Milton in general?  If MLA chooses for organizational purposes to group JM with earlier or later writers, do you as scholars, and should I as a pretty good engineer, care?  I'm willing to, but I lack context.

Bob Blair
--------------------------------------------
On Thu, 9/12/13, Harper, Dave LTC MIL USA USMA <Dave.Harper at usma.edu<mailto:Dave.Harper at usma.edu>> wrote:

 Subject: [Milton-L] MLA Division Structure Discussion
 To: "milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
 Date: Thursday, September 12, 2013, 3:34 PM

 Colleagues,

 I'd like to draw attention to the current draft proposal for
 restructuring the MLA divisions on display at MLA Commons.
 Forgive me if someone has already done this for the list,
 but if so I seem to have missed the conversation.

 As I understand the draft proposal, one of the options on
 the table is to collapse "Restoration and Early Eighteenth
 Century Literature" and "Late Eighteenth Century Literature"
 into "The Long 18th Century." Another proposal suggests
 collapsing "Literature of the English Renaissance Excluding
 Shakespeare" and "17th-Century British" into "British Early
 Modern."

 As has been voiced by Thomas Luxon, Jonathan Kramnick, and
 others in the comments to the draft, these changes will
 obscure the Restoration and its unique features even more
 than it now is while paired with the early 18th Century. The
 enacting of both these proposals would leave Milton stranded
 between the "British Early Modern" and the "Long Eighteenth
 Century."

 I would humbly suggest that those who haven't made voiced
 their opinion in the discussion at MLA Commons may want to.
 But not while sleep-deprived, as I was.

  http://groupsdiscussion.commons.mla.org/draft-proposal/

 Best,
 Dave Harper


 David A. Harper
 Assistant Professor
 United States Military Academy



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--
Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
Author of The Bible in Shakespeare, now available through all good bookshops, or direct from Oxford University Press at http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199677610.do
Editor, Reformation
The Ohio State University
164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
Columbus, OH 43210-1340
hamlin.22 at osu.edu/<http://hamlin.22@osu.edu/>
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