It's time for the annual Modern Language Association convention, this year in Chicago, and this year with somewhat favorable travel weather.  A Chronicle of Higher Education report on the convention devotes its first few paragraphs to developments at the convention that appear to be only peripherally related, if at all, to language.  Read on, though, and you see that the organizational rot began long ago.
It’s important to note that the potential for controversy at this year’s MLA is nothing new. Over the years we’ve seen numerous motions and actions planned on thorny issues, from diversifying the profession to defending the rights of graduate students to participate in unions. Some have produced results; others have fizzled.

In 1968, an upstart group of grad students and young professors protested the MLA’s generally apolitical nature, eventually elevating two members of their ranks to the MLA presidencies in the early ‘70s. Later that decade, women and minority scholars decried the MLA for its perceived elitism, sexism and lack of diversity.

The discontent amped up in the early 1990s over the lack of academic jobs.
Two score and six years of agitation, the identity politics grievance mongers metastasize from their area studies departments to take over much of higher education, the trendy radicalism of much of higher education proves to be ineffective either in the classroom or in the street, higher education fails its market tests, and these people wonder about the lack of academic jobs?  At Commentary, Jonathan Marks asks, "Will the MLA Resolve to Discredit Itself?"  It's about an association vote to boycott Israel -- or something -- that has little or nothing to do with language.  By its own actions, the association, or the discipline, or those parts of higher education that test p.c. positive, have discredited themselves years ago.  But in the view of some revolutionaries, the existing association is insufficiently revolutionary.  Thus a shadow conference, "Resisting Vulnerable Times," is in order.
In accordance with the nascent status of the project, we welcome submissions for panels, presentations, workshops, and other session proposals that take up the numerous and intersectional issues that arise from the living, working, and raising families in higher education, including perspectives on race, class, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and ability.
We have much to look forward to.

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