Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Guide to the Slavic (&c.) Entities at MLA

What Slavic entities exist under the auspices of the MLA?

Three Slavic / East European / Eurasian - focused entities are administered or recognized by the MLA:
  1. The Russian and Eurasian Forum (LLC Russian and Eurasian -- the "LLC" stands for "Languages, Literatures, and Cultures").
  2. The Slavic and East European Forum (LLC Slavic and East European).
  3. The American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL), which is not part of MLA, but is recognized as an "Allied Organization."
Detailed information about the policies governing the three entities is available here: Policies for Forums and Allied Organizations.  A summary is given below:

Each of the two Forums (which are part of MLA's official structure) is governed by an Executive Committee of 5 people.  The current membership of each committee can be found here:
Note that service is counted by "Convention Year" (and a "Convention Year" ends with the Annual MLA Convention; thus, "Convention Year 2017" runs from Jan 15, 2016 through Jan 14, 2017). Forum Executive Committee members typically serve as Secretary of their respective committees in their 3rd year of service, and as Chair in their 4th year of service.

The chief responsibilities of the Forum Executive Committees (hereafter, FECs) are to organize panels/sessions of interest to the field at the annual MLA Convention; and to perpetuate themselves by nominating candidates to run for election to the FEC during the annual MLA election in the fall.

Representation on the MLA Delegate Assembly:
The Russian and Eurasian Forum also designates a delegate to the MLA Delegate Assembly; this delegate serves a three-year term.  For historical reasons, the Slavic and E. Euro. Forum does not currently send a representative to the Delegate Assembly.

AATSEEL, as an Allied Organization, is represented at the MLA by a Liaison who is a member of both organizations; his/her chief responsibilities are to arrange one or more AATSEEL-sponsored sessions at the annual MLA Convention, and to submit the necessary forms for the seven-yearly Allied Organization Review.

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Each year, after the MLA Convention in January, the longest-serving member of each Forum Exec. Committee rotates off the committee, and is replaced by a new member, elected the preceding fall.  Forum executive committee elections are held in the fall along with the elections for second vice president, the Executive Council, and the Delegate Assembly. The executive committee of each forum is responsible for placing at least two names in nomination for each open seat on the executive committee. At least one of these names must be selected from a list of suggestions put forward by the membership.  If you would like to serve on one of the FECs or would like to suggest someone else, you can nominate yourself or another MLA member here: https://apps.mla.org/ballot_nominations

The MLA's Coordinator of Governance emails the necessary paperwork and instructions for election nominations to the Chair and Secretary of each FEC every year, ahead of the MLA Convention. 

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Forum Executive Committees meet each year during the MLA Convention. Typically, a joint meeting is arranged by the Chairs of the Russian & Eurasian and of the Slavic & East European Forums, and this meeting is also attended by the AATSEEL Liaison and by the Russian & Eurasian Forum's Delegate to the Assembly.  At this meeting, nominees are generated for the forthcoming fall elections to both FECs, and a set of topics is generated from which to form the Russian/Eurasian, Slavic/East European, and AATSEEL-sponsored panels at the following year's MLA Convention.  

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An overview of the guidelines for organizing a session at the MLA Convention is available here:

  • January (approx. Jan 6-10): At the MLA Convention, the meeting of the Slavic groups is held.
  • FebruaryCalls for Papers to form panels for the following year's Convention must be submitted via the MLA website, typically by February 28.   Note that the word limit for a CFP is 35 words, including the session title!
    Information about submitting CFPs is available here: https://apps.mla.org/conv_papers
  • MarchTypically, CFPs should list a deadline no later than March 15, so that the panel organizer has time to select participants, write up a proposal (using the submitted abstracts as a base) if the panel is a competitive one (i.e. nonguaranteed -- see info below re: guaranteed vs nonguaranteed panels), and submit all the program information to the appropriate person (FEC Chair or AATSEEL Liaison) well before the April 1 deadline. Sometimes, an organizer may extend the CFP deadline by a week to get more proposals, but then s/he needs to get the final panel information to the FEC Chair/Liaison quickly!
  • AprilApril 1 is the deadline for the FEC Chairs and AATSEEL Liaison to submit all program copy for sessions being proposed for the upcoming Convention.  (Session proposals may be submitted from early March. They are submitted online.  Only the designated individuals can access the proposal submission forms.  Details about how to access the forms are available in this FAQ.)  April 1 is also the deadline for submitting Membership Waiver requests -- see below.

    April 7 is the deadline for all proposed participants in the upcoming Convention to acquire or renew their MLA membership.  Waivers of the membership requirement may be granted for nonscholars (e.g., medical doctors, visual artists, etc.) and scholars who work in disciplines other than language and literature. An individual may be granted a waiver once every five years. The request for a waiver of membership must be made by the session organizer and must be submitted on the Request for a Waiver of Membership form by 1 April for the following January’s convention. 

Guaranteed, nonguaranteed, and collaborative sessions:
A "guaranteed" session is one that is guaranteed inclusion in the Convention program, regardless of topic.  A guaranteed session proposal only needs to contain the session title, participant names and affiliations, and (where applicable) paper titles.  

A "nonguaranteed" or "competitive" session must compete with other proposals for acceptance into the Convention program.  Unlike guaranteed session proposals, each proposal for a nonguaranteed session -- i.e., the material that is submitted on the Program Copy forms due April 1 -- must contain (1) a detailed description of and scholarly rationale for the session and (2) information about the participants' scholarship and its relevance.

A "collaborative" session is one that is co-sponsored by another MLA entity (so, another Forum or Allied Organization); collaborative sessions are also nonguaranteed.  AATSEEL can serve as a "collaborator" for either Forum if desired.  Each entity can submit only one collaborative session proposal, but that collaborative proposal is in addition to any other nonguaranteed session proposal the entity may be submitting.

Detailed information about how to put together a proposal for a nonguaranteed (and/or collaborative) session, including sample proposals and scoring guidelines, is available here:

How many sessions does each entity get to propose?The Russian and Eurasian Forum is allotted two guaranteed sessions each year. The Slavic and East European Forum and AATSEEL each have one guaranteed session.  In addition, each entity may propose one nonguaranteed session and one (nonguaranteed) collaborative session.

So the total number of session proposals available under the auspices of the three Slavic entities is:

Entity                            Guaranteed                  Nonguaranteed                   Collaborative
LLC Russ/Eurasian             2                                    1                                          1
LLC Slavic/E. Euro.             1                                    1                                          1
AATSEEL                               1                                    1                                          1
TOTAL:                              4                                   3                                       3