Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lederman, Doug. "A Defining Election [on the Decline of the ALSC]." INSIDE HIGHER ED April 25, 2008.

Association elections are rarely the stuff of national news, even when they get nasty, as is sometimes the case. But so too is it uncommon for the election of officers of a group to speak so directly to the status of an entire academic discipline. But such is the case, as some participants see it, in a bitterly contested election unfolding now among members of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. The group thrived for a decade as a “traditionalist” alternative to the Modern Language Association, the primary coalition of English and language professors, which the new group’s members saw as increasingly overtaken by identity politics and cultural studies instead of what the considered substantive literary interpretation. But in recent years ALSC has seen its fortunes decline, as its membership (from over 2,000 in the mid-1990s to about 800 now) and attendance at its annual conference both have flagged. Exactly why the group has struggled is a matter of debate. For some of its founders and leaders, the problem lies in the fact that the association has largely abandoned one of its two original missions, continuing to serve as a forum for genuine literary criticism but generally ceasing to engage in the culture wars as it had early on . . . Read the rest here:

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