9.139 the MLA and computers

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Fri, 1 Sep 1995 16:51:19 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 139.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1] From: Michael Hancher <mh@maroon.tc.umn.edu> (30)
Subject: electronic technology and the MLA

I assume that some subscribers to HUMANIST have served on the
committee that for the last several years has been advising the
administration of the MLA about possible applications of
electronic technology. According to the Directory issue of
_PMLA_ (Sept. 1995), 538, the Committee on Computers and Emerging
Technologies in Teaching and Research "initiates projects,
publications, and other activities relating to the use of
computers and other technologies for teaching and research in the
language and literature fields; recommends on the publication of
software by the association; advises on matters relating to

Applications that might well be considered by the committee
include subject-oriented LISTSERVs; Web pages; and converting the
_MLA Job List_ to a searchable database. But I have seen no sign
that the MLA is preparing such initiatives.

The _Directory_ reports the e-mail addresses of many MLA members,
but only a few MLA administrators. Phone numbers, fax numbers,
and mailing addresses appear opposite the Contents page, but no
e-mail address. The omission seems emblematic of a general

Despite its commanding position in the academy, the MLA has not
been a leader in developing useful applications for electronic
technology (aside from the long-standing _International
Bibliography_ database). Why not? Can HUMANIST subscribers help
nudge the MLA into the 21st century?

Michael Hancher
Professor of English
University of Minnesota