Patrick Hazard’s lament about the dearth of tenure-track jobs for English teachers is apt. This serious issue has also been noted recently in similar reports by the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.
However, Hazard’s opinion that the Modern Language Association (MLA) isn’t interested in world literature is baffling, considering that the theme of the MLA conference he discusses, which took place in Philadelphia in December, was “The Tasks of Translation in the Global Context.”
For three days, Philadelphia hosted hundreds of academics who discussed literature from around the world. This international theme was announced more than a year in advance. Anyone could have tracked down this information online in a few seconds.
So while it’s admirable that Hazard continues to sound the alarm about the horrible job prospects for English majors, his comment (stemming from his experience with the MLA in 1968) about the organization’s provincial interests in regard to literature no longer holds true.
For the record, I’m neither a professor nor a member of MLA, just a local observer with an interest in literature in translation.
January 26, 2010
Patrick Hazard replies: I didn’t attend the MLA convocation and I’m pleased to learn that global literature was its theme. I have suggested that future Ph.D.’s in English present, as one of their prelims, media skills or competence in one foreign language to further our access to global literatures.
As an English major, I loved Patrick Hazard’s article and his point of view. I wish I had done more with my major, though I think I knew something was wrong then. At Penn (Class of ’63) I mucked around with some classes in American civilization, but no more than that.
Newtown Square, Pa.
January 29, 2010
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