[We’re deep into the planning for next spring’s Northeast MLA conference, which will be held in Hartford from March 17-20. I’d love for you all to be part of that conference, whether in person or through online ideas and community, and so wanted to share here the President’s Letter that I wrote for our upcoming newsletter. I’d love to hear your thoughts!]
“Dear NeMLA Members,
I’m so excited to welcome you to our upcoming convention in Hartford! The NeMLA Board, Executive Director, and Staff, along with our local host institution the University of Connecticut and many others, have worked tirelessly over the last few months to prepare what should be one of our most vibrant and vital conventions yet.
Hartford will be a wonderful host. We’ve secured a special convention rate at the Hartford Marriott Downtown, which along with the adjacent Connecticut Convention Center will host the convention; both are located in the newly renovated Adriaen’s Landing district. Hartford complements such new developments with some of the best historic, cultural, and artistic sites in New England: our convention will feature events at the Mark Twain House, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, and the Hartford Public Library; and we will also offer opportunities to connect with the Wadsworth Atheneum, performances by Hartford’s award-winning theatrical companies, and more.
The 2016 Convention will feature all of the sessions and events for which NeMLA has become well known. We have hundreds of approved panels, roundtables, and seminars, representing both the best of our established areas and new developments in the digital humanities and new media, composition and rhetoric, and professional and pedagogical conversations. We will offer four diverse and innovative workshops, as well as our CV clinic and other professional sessions. And our slate of area Special Events is stronger than ever, with dozens of events including performances by novelist Carole Maso (the first honoree of our new Meet the Author initiative), filmmaker Nancy Bogen, Native American novelist Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, and historical novelist Leanne Hinkle.
Kicking off those creative performances and our convention will be the Thursday night opening reading by the supremely talented writer and editor Monique Truong. Monique’s two novels, along with her edited anthology of Vietnamese American writing and her many other publications and projects, have established her as a vital 21st century American writer and voice, and one who embodies the artistic, cultural, historical, and political spirit of our Hartford convention.
That spirit will also be captured by a number of new NeMLA initiatives we’re launching for the Hartford convention. On Friday afternoon at the Mark Twain House, we will feature a series of Presidential Sessions, special roundtable conversations on interconnected themes of public humanities, the digital humanities, and scholarly activism. These Friday Presidential Sessions will culminate with a roundtable on the Academy after Ferguson (organized by Professor Jonathan Gray) and then with Professor Jelani Cobb’s keynote address. Professor Cobb exemplifies the best of contemporary public scholarship and I couldn’t be more excited to feature him at our convention.
Two other presidential initiatives will address current issues and crises in education and the humanities. Recent events at NeMLA institutions, including Duquesne University firing nearly all of its adjunct faculty and Rider University cutting dozens of humanities programs and majors, illustrate all too clearly these ongoing crises, and demand engagement from organizations and communities like ours. We will offer that engagement through a series of Saturday Presidential Sessions on academic labor, adjunct faculty, and the state of higher education, culminating in our CAITY Caucus Special Event on adjunct unions; thanks to CAITY President Emily Lauer and many others for helping make these vital conversations happen.
These crises extend well beyond the academy, of course, and so too must NeMLA extend into our communities. At the 2016 convention, such community outreach will occur through a partnership with the Hartford Public Schools: educators will be invited to attend our convention and the Presidential Sessions, and will receive professional development support for doing so; and we are in the process of organizing Thursday afternoon visits to local schools, opportunities for conference attendees to meet and work with students, educators, and community members. If you’ll be at the convention on Thursday and are interested in taking part in such visits, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know!
As you can see, the 2016 convention will be one of our best ever. That’s due, once again, to the hard work of so many: the University of Connecticut and our conference committee there, including Professors Cathy Schlund-Vials and Robert Hasenfratz, Dean Shirley Roe, and our graduate student local liaisons Emma Burris-Janssen and Sarah Moon; the NeMLA Board, including Executive Director Carine Mardorossian, Vice President Hilda Chacon, 2nd Vice President Maria DiFrancesco, Past President Daniela Antonucci, and all our Area and Caucus Directors; and the peerless NeMLA Staff.
On behalf of all of us, I welcome you once more to Hartford and the 2016 NeMLA Convention!”
Thanksgiving series starts Monday,
PS. Any responses to these NeMLA plans? Ways you’d like to take part in the conference? Lemme know!
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