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The “Modern Language” Association

The Modern Language Association.

In the winter of 1974–5 I was invited to give a talk at the Modern Language Association. This was a big deal for a young professor. Especially a young woman. The Modern Language Association is, by self-definition, “ a learned society,” and it was founded in 1883 to encourage the teaching of English and the humanities.

By the time I got there, almost one hundred years later, the annual MLA conference was a…

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