All posts by William Pannapacker


Rebooting Graduate Education in the Humanities

Boston — The last MLA session I attended brought together several major themes of this year’s conference: technology, graduate education, and alternative careers. Paul Fyfe introduced the panelists—a mix of faculty and graduate students—as “scholars who are actively creating the institutional conditions needed for any new curriculum to succeed.”

Matthew Jockers, co-founder with Franco Moretti of the Stanford Literary Lab, explained how the digital humanities had evolved organizationally from a …


What if the Adjuncts Shrugged?

Boston — Michael Bérubé’s address at this year’s Modern Language Association convention was one of a handful of times that I felt some real solidarity in the profession against the exploitation of the majority of our students and colleagues.

Back in the 90s, Bérubé helped make it possible to talk about academe’s labor practices through writings such as Higher Education Under Fire (1994) and The Employment of English (1997).  I remember that Bérubé —along with Cary Nelson and Paul Lauter—w…


On ‘The Dark Side of the Digital Humanities’

Boston — The digital humanities continues to gain to prominence at the Modern Language Association, but it seems like it might be reaching the top of its growth curve.  There was even some talk of what will happen after the “DH bubble” bursts.  Mark Sample’s annual list of DH-related sessions notes that there are 66 sessions this year, a slight increase over the 58 that were held last year (with 44 and 27 in the two previous years).  It’s still only 8% of the total number of sessions, but the…


The End of MLAlienation?

My younger self would be surprised that I look forward to the annual convention of the Modern Language Association.

When I started going to the MLA, I was a new graduate student and didn’t know anyone. I wandered around the vast hotel (now mixed up in my memory with The Shining), attended sessions, and perused some books—I was learning a lot about the profession—but said hardly a word to anyone during those four days; it seemed like there was no way to initiate conversation. Everyone was tal…