The Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Humanities offers this list of Sessions of Interest to Graduate Student Members at the 2019 MLA Annual Convention. The list includes both regular sessions, social events, and mentoring opportunities.
There are plenty of coffee shops and eateries near the MLA 2019 convention.
Following is a variety of budget-friendly options (variably priced from $ to $$). This list is not an endorsement of any particular place, rather it is a compilation of places nearby to the convention. Local-to-Chicago options have embedded links to their website.
Peet’s Coffee ($) (400 Michigan Avenue #120)
Starbucks ($$) (333 Michigan Avenue and 444 N Michigan Ave)
Dunkin’ Donuts ($) (404 N Wabash Ave)
Stan’s Donuts & Coffee ($) (535 N Michigan Ave)
Caffé Rom (180 N Stetson Ave #107)
Corner Bakery Café ($$) (444 N Michigan Ave)
Wildberry Pancakes and Café ($$) (130 E Randolph St)
Snarf’s Sandwiches ($) (180 N Stetson Ave)
Jersey Mike’s Subs ($) (203 E Ohio St)
Yolk Streeterville ($$) (355 E Ohio St)
McDonald’s ($) (233 N Michigan)
Chick-fil-A ($) (177 N State St #1a)
LYFE Kitchen ($) (270 E Ontario St)
Restaurants and Taverns
Billy Goat Tavern ($) (430 N Michigan Ave)
Beacon Tavern ($$) (405 N Wabash Ave)
Giordano’s ($$) (130 E Randolph St)
Coco Pazzo Café ($$) (212 E Ohio St)
Trader Joe’s (44 E Ontario St)
Lastly, here are a few popular destinations within reasonable distance from the convention:
Navy Pier (600 E Grand Ave)
Chicago Water Tower (806 Michigan Avenue)
Chicago Cultural Center (78 E Washington St)
American Writers Museum (180 N Michigan Ave)
Dear friends and colleagues,
I’ve been working on a document, text shared below, on Best Practices for Supporting Junior Scholars in Academic Organizations. I invite any feedback, comments, and edits you may have by May 15 since I’m rotating off the committee this summer. I hope this will become an official document under the MLA Committee on the Status of Grads in the Humanities. Please feel free to email or Tweet at me! — Xine
Graduate students and junior scholars are vital to the thriving of academic organizations and the health of the related academic fields. This document calls attention to support for their participation and well-being within academic organizations and societies as opposed to under the aegises of specific institutions and departments. Junior scholars, particularly those who are underrepresented minorities, are structurally precarious in the profession; relevant policies, responsibilities, and appropriate best practices can be unclear in the context of academic conferences and the scholarly community beyond the home institution.
This document serves as a general point of reference for academic organizations to assess their current practices and to encourage the development of further support for junior scholars towards their long-term flourishing. One hope is that junior scholars looking to develop a caucus or to advocate for more support may find this a useful resource to guide their work and an authoritative reference to demonstrate to their organization what standards exist across the profession. However, although grassroots junior scholar engagement is critical, we do not want them to bear the burden for their own well-being: we urge the organization’s officers and members who are faculty to act as allies who are committed to mentoring, sponsoring, and advocating for junior scholars.
Graduate Representation and Organization
- Are there graduate students on any of the organization’s committees?
- Is there a graduate caucus or similar body? If the organization is large enough for formal representatives, what regions or types of institutions are represented?
- Does the caucus have a constitution or other relevant documentation to make official its structure and purview? Are these documents reviewed on a regular basis in case updates are needed?
- What access does that body have to the organization’s resources, communications etc?
- Does the caucus have any say in organization policy? Can the caucus issue its own statements and proposals?
- Are there open lines of communication with the organization’s president and other governing bodies?
- Does the caucus have a presence on the organization’s official website? Are there clear descriptions of the caucus’s roles and officer positions if any?
- Does the caucus have its own website or social media accounts so it can directly manage its relationship to its constituents?
- What structural measures are in place to ensure the continuation of the caucus? Are positions, nominations, and elections advertised?
- Is there formal or informal attention to the experiences and needs of junior scholars who are underrepresented minorities?
- Is there a graduate student rate for membership and conference attendance? How does it compare to the rates for contingent/non-permanent, tenure-track, tenured faculty?
- Is there a fund or prize for graduate conference travel?
- Is there a prize for best graduate student essay/presentation? Thesis/dissertation?
- Is there a collation of research fellowships, archival grants, awards, and other resources in the field specific to graduate students? What about resources for professionalization and or advocacy and activism?
- Is student mentoring incentivized by the organization? Formally recognized through an award?
- Does a spotlight series or other initiative exist to raise the profile of junior scholars?
- What formal measures, codes of conduct, and procedures are in place to prevent abuses of power? If not through the organization, are people made aware that policies may exist through their institutions?
- Are there formal/informal mentors and advocates among faculty for the caucus itself?
Graduates at the Conference
- Is there an active awareness of conference attendee rank demographics?
- What is the likelihood that a graduate student would have their presentation accepted from the general pool? Are graduate students included in pre-organized panels?
- Likelihood a graduate student can organize a panel/session and have it accepted?
- Are there any policies or recommendations about panel composition in terms of rank?
- What is the conference atmosphere like for junior scholars?
- Do senior scholars have formal or informal opportunities to mentor or meet juniors?
- Does the caucus have any say in the conference program?
- Does the caucus have a meeting/social/reception formally scheduled during the conference? Is there a sense of junior scholar community?
- Are there graduate-specific workshops or resources? Can the caucus sponsor sessions or workshops?
- Are junior scholars made aware of the resources available to them through avenues like the conference listserv, website, programme?
Academic freedom is an “indispensable requisite for unfettered teaching and research in institutions of higher education” that has been seen as a cornerstone that enables our work since 1940. It is framed as the “core mission” of the American Association of University Professors. But the elements of it that are linked to a “professional standard” are ultimately described as “tied to custom and practice.” They are separate from a legal definition, which requires an understanding of both constitutional and contract law that many of us simply do not have. What this ultimately means is that most members of the Modern Language Association work without a technical or practical understanding of what “academic freedom” really is. We labor under a belief that we are protected by a legal and professional right that makes it possible for us to fully engage in the classroom and in public forums, even if our work challenges traditional modes of thinking or raises difficult questions. But then we see a rescinded job offer—or a graduate student is removed from a classroom after being doxed. If we turn to published essays in hopes of answers we are met with titles that range from the explicit “Academic Freedom Has Limits. Where They Are Isn’t Always Clear” to the more pointed “Can the Adjunct Speak?” And in this context it seems both pressing and timely to outline and then analyze the reach and limitations of “Academic Freedom.”
This panel takes its departure from an assumption that “Academic Freedom” does not actually extend to all the people or places that many of us imagine it does. Its real and imagined protections have also been troubled by external pressures and internal conflicts that are complex enough to merit a thirty-four page report on its “current legal landscape.” The classroom no longer seems safe even for professors with tenure, in a moment that Twitter can substantially alter an entire career. Any given exchange can be publicized widely, which makes it difficult to use the classroom as a space for intellectual exploration and genuine exchange. Finally, this is even more problematic for adjuncts and graduate student laborers, who are often asked to teach transformative but emotionally and politically complex courses in fields like ethnic studies or queer theory without allegedly requisite protections, which threatens both individuals and entire fields.
This panel seeks to address a series of related questions:
- What does academic freedom actually cover?
- What are its paradoxes, ironies, and contradictions?
- Who actually has academic freedom? Does it extend to professors without tenure? What about graduate student laborers?
- How can we protect ourselves (especially our most vulnerable professors)?
- How can we protect the University (especially its most vulnerable areas of study)?
Our hope is that while we may never develop a clear sense of what our rights and protections are, this panel will provide a stronger foundation: an overview of the reach, limitations, and complexities of academic freedom, along with some sense of where to turn as our work as professors is threatened.
How to Participate:
This will be a roundtable at the MLA in January 2019. Five participants will give eight-minute presentations and then take part in a long Q&A. If you’d like to join this conversation please send a 250-word abstract and vita to Andrés Rabinovich (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Meredith Farmer (email@example.com) by 15 March 2018. You can see the brief official MLA CFP here.