I attended MLA for the first time last year, and that after much internal debate over whether it even made sense for me to attend a literature conference, working as I do primarily in digital narratives and games. But after spending most of my time in the digital humanities conference within a conference, I’m back, and I’m very interested in discussing the role of interdisciplinary and fully multidisciplinary convergence in transforming traditional conference spaces.
The leaking of the MLA Job List reflected some of this tension: the list is held beyond a paywall accessible to professors and graduate students affiliated with “member departments”, a status that highly interdisciplinary departments (including my own) are unlikely to ever hold. The leaking of the jobs list is a question in part of open access to opportunities but it is also a reminder that the resources of this organization are of value to many beyond traditional affiliates.
The inherently collaborative world of DH is still only one fraction of MLA’s discourse, and a co-located THATCamp is an interesting opportunity to probe the conference’s identity. I’d be interested in talking to other out-of-discipline participants at MLA: why are you here? Do you identify strongly with any one discipline’s association? How are these organizations and conferences being transformed by the reconstruction of disciplinary models within institutions and in individual scholarly careers–not to mention alt-ac?