For an academic organization based on language and the study of English, the Modern Language Association seems to have only one thing on its mind and it isn’t language.
Malcolm A. Kline of Accuracy in Academia reports.
Southern Sexuality, MLA-Style
At the Modern Language Association (MLA) 2013 Boston meeting, at least on the program, homosexuality seemed to be the new heterosexuality. This year’s conclave, where just about every English department is represented, at least once, featured panels on:
• Queer Theory without Antinormativity;
• Postqueer? Postrace? The Political Stakes of Queer;
• Queer Theory in a Post Colonial World;
• Queerness as Form;
• Transgender France;
• Movements, Incantations, and Parables of Queer Performance
• LGBTQI Graduate Students and Academia;
• Queer Sexualities in African Literatures and Film;
• Queer Occupations;
• Gay Culture in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union;
• Racing, Queering and Psychoanalysis;
• Queer Times: Affect, Phenomology, Temporality; and
• What is Post-AIDS Literature?
Looked at one way, that’s only 13 out of 795 panels at the MLA. By way of comparison, though, there were six panels on Shakespeare. Yet and still, in a conference broken up into 24 segments lasting 75 minutes each, that breaks down to one every other hour.
Moreover, even in panels without titles such as the aforementioned, that subject still came up. For example:
• A panel on Early American Sex featured a presentation on “Intimations: Queer Subculture and Social Vision in the Antebellum Novel” given by Christopher D. Castiglia of Penn State;
• A panel on Spectacles of Gender and Desire in Silver Age Spain featured a presentation on “A (Gay) Marriage Made in Heaven? Performance, Religious Rituals, and Nomadic Desires in Pasion y muerte del cura Deusto” by Alejandro Majias-Lopez of Indiana University;
• A panel on Theories of Close Reading in Socially Motivated Criticism featured a presentation entitled “No Good: On Sentimental Miseducations and Socially Motivated Queer Theory” by Lee Charles Edelman of Tufts;