To the Editors:
Readers of The New York Review may recall an uprising (of sorts) at the Annual Meeting of the Modern Language Association (MLA) two years ago. At that meeting, people who teach literature and languages expressed their anger over the MLA’s bureaucratic callousness by passing a series of resolutions on social issues, demanding the establishment of a commission on women in the profession, and electing a dissident as second vice president of the MLA.
This year that second vice president will become president. And the MLA has made some tentative moves to democratize itself. Yet many of us believe that the few actions the Association has taken are halfhearted, misdirected, or outright frauds.
The situation of the profession is desperate. Jobs are almost impossible to come by. Those lucky enough to gain employment are faced either by political repression, or by a curriculum which disregards their students’ needs.
The MLA will address itself to the serious issues facing our culture only if it is prodded.
We propose that people get together for that purpose. Date: December 26, 1970. Time: 8 P.M. Place: Sutton North, New York Hilton.
for the New University Conference
December 17, 1970