[Milton-L] MLA Division Structure Discussion

Andrew Fleck andrew.fleck at sjsu.edu
Fri Sep 13 14:59:09 EDT 2013


I had not heard about the suggestions for consolidating Old and Middle
English and Chaucer that Su Fang describes in her email. Clicking on the
link Dave Harper provided gets us to a list and on that list Old English,
Middle English, and Chaucer appear no longer to be in danger of
consolidation (if I'm reading the color-coding correctly). So, perhaps
their letter of protest was successful?
Like Greg Machacek, I worry that the difference between SkelTON and MilTON
would get erased in the collapse of the four groups (16th, 17th,
Restoration, Late 18th) into two (Early Modern, Long-18th). Is it true that
the Milton Society itself would still have a chance to oversee its own
panels at the annual meeting? That might be some consolation. And as
someone mentioned, there's always the possibility of special sessions that
would include Milton. But, if it's not a matter of the MLA's resources (and
it would seem not to be skin off their nose), why reduce the number of
sessions and self-governing groups devoted to earlier periods such as ours?
Anyway, here's hoping enough voices raised in opposition might prevent this
consolidation!
Andy


On Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 8:59 AM, Ng, Su Fang <ngsf at ou.edu> wrote:

>  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>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 ofc
>> 601 266-5757 fax
>> ________________________________________
>> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [
>> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Bob Blair [
>> 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>
>> wrote:
>>
>>  Subject: [Milton-L] MLA Division Structure Discussion
>>  To: "milton-l at lists.richmond.edu" <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
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> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
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-- 
*************************
Andrew Fleck
Associate Professor
English and Comparative Literature
San Jose State University
San Jose, CA 95192-0090
(408) 924-4457

"Stay we no longer dreaming of renown,
But sound the trumpets and about our task."
(3 Henry VI, 2.1.199-200)
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