On Restructuring the MLA Convention

Dear WPA members--
As President of WPA, I’ve been invited by Rosemary Feal, MLA Executive Director, to attend a meeting with representatives of other MLA Allied and Affiliate Organizations. I have excerpted parts of Ms. Feal’s letter, in which she introduces the questions for discussion at the meeting.

Next week, we will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Council of Writing Program Administrators at a Teaching of Writing Division session at the 1976 MLA (see details of our celebration at http://wpacouncil.org/node/532). This seems like an auspicious time for us to review our relationship with MLA.

I’d appreciate hearing responses to these questions from any interested WPA members. Please reply either here, using the comment feature (at end of post) or email me at roses@purdue.edu


Shirley K Rose, President
Council of Writing Program Administrators

excerpts from Rosemary Feal's letter follow:

”One member of each allied and affiliate organization is being invited to this meeting to allow for a broad and effective exchange of information. The agenda will be as follows:

1) What purpose does the MLA Annual Convention serve for your organization? Has this purpose changed over the past ten years?

2) How can communications between the MLA and your organization be improved?

3) The Ad Hoc Committee on the Structure of the Annual Convention has recommended eliminating evening paper-reading sessions and changing the
dates of the annual convention so that the convention begins the first Thursday after 2 January. (Note: These recommendations are on the agenda of the Delegate Assembly meeting on 29 December). How would these changes affect your organization?

4) The Ad Hoc Committee on the Structure of the Annual Convention is studying the overall distribution of sessions to allow for more special sessions and to permit new allied and affiliate organizations to participate. What principles should guide the ad hoc committee as it considers reapportioning sessions among MLA entities (divisions, discussion groups, and committees), allied and affiliate organizations, and special session proponents?

Rosemary Feal
Executive Director”


The only reason for our department to attend MLA would be job interviews; either we go to interview candidates for our searches, or our students and faculty go to be interviewed. The timing is terrible for everyone. Moving the conference to early January would be highly desirable; it would give people more time to finish grading and prepare their presentations. It would allow faculty and students to spend the holiday time with their families. Eliminating evening sessions is a good idea too. I very much support such changes. Also, since lots of departments send faculty and students to interview who have expertise in composition, rhetoric, and technical communication, it's really important to have more sessions in those areas.

At the meeting for representatives of allied organizations, Rosemary Feal told us that the MLA Delegate Assembly had voted in favor of changing in the dates of the convention. However, the Delegate Assembly does not have the final say on the matter. I will post a note when I hear about the outcome of this issue.


Shirley K Rose
Purdue University
Council of Writing Program Administrators