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Something Is Happening but You Don't Know What It Is, Do You, Mr. Jones?

Henry Nash Smith
PMLA
Vol. 85, No. 3 (May, 1970), pp. 417-422
DOI: 10.2307/1261442
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1261442
Page Count: 6
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Something Is Happening but You Don't Know What It Is, Do You, Mr. Jones?
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Abstract

Stirrings of protest within the MLA during the past year challenge many received ideas about the structure and functioning of the Association. For example, we need to consider constitutional revisions transferring power from the Executive Council to a more representative legislative body. There is a basic disagreement within the MLA between conservatives who believe that the study and teaching of literature should be and can be "objective," and radicals who maintain that such a claim is fraudulent because if the scholar fails to denounce the existing social and economic order, he is in effect an apologist for it. Although the Foreign Language Program has been characterized as merely an adjunct to American imperialism, it has operated primarily to increase study of major European languages long a part of the liberal arts curriculum. The Faculty Exchange, which has been vigorously criticized, is highly useful to small departments; the question of its abolition requires careful study. These various controversies are generated by conflicting notions of how the MLA should serve society. We must resolve the basic issue if we are to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the intellectual enterprise to which our profession commits us.

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