MLA 2011 #150: New Tools, Hard Times

Panel abstract:

This roundtable will examine what role the tools of social networking have played in organizing and communicating about the economic crisis in higher education.  One of the goals of the panel will be practical:  to share tips and strategies about what works and what doesn’t (and to think critically about how we judge the effectiveness of any particular tool or strategy).  Another will be reflective:  to provide an opportunity for weighing the benefits and the risks of scholars using these tools to perform work that is often more in the mode of public or professional advocacy than scholarship in the traditional sense.

Speaker Bios:

Rosemary Feal is executive director of the Modern Language Association (MLA).  She is general editor of MLA publications and editor of Profession and the MLA Newsletter, an ex officio member of all MLA committees and commissions, and chair of the Program Committee for the annual convention.  She came to the MLA in 2002 from the State University of New York, Buffalo, where she was professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Humanities Alliance and a former vice president of that organization.  She served on the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies.  She is coconvener of the Coalition on the Academic Workforce. She is associate editor of the Afro-Hispanic Review and former senior consulting editor of the Latin American Literary Review.  She has published in the fields of contemporary Latin American literature, Afro-Hispanic studies, feminist theory, and psychoanalytic criticism.  Her book publications include Painting on the Page: Interartistic Approaches to Modern Hispanic Texts (SUNY Press, 1995);  Novel Lives: The Fictional Autobiographies of Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Mario Vargas Llosa (North Carolina, 1986); and Isabel Allende Today (co-edited with Yvette Miller) (2002).

Marc Bousquet is an associate professor of English at Santa Clara University, where he teaches courses in radical U.S. culture, internet studies, and writing with new media.  He writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Brainstorm blog and maintains a Youtube channel focussed on academic labor issues.  He serves on the national council of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and on the advisory board of several journals including AAUP’s Academe. While president of MLA’s Graduate Student Caucus, he founded Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor. His most recent book is How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation (NYU, 2008). He is at work on a book about the bipartisan failure of education policy, and another about participatory culture in the United States.

Brian Croxall is Emerging Technologies Librarian and CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University. In this position, he works not only to integrate digital technologies into the whole of the library but also to establish a Digital Scholarship Commons. He has an articles forthcoming in American Imago and recently co-edited a special issue of Neo-Victorian Studies on the subject of steampunk. His research interests include 20th- and 21st-century American literature and trauma studies as well as media theory and social media. His paper for MLA 2009, “The Absent Presence: Today’s Faculty,” was read for him at the convention because it was not economically feasible for him to attend, but the paper was broadly circulated through blogs and Twitter. He later wrote about the experience in The Chronicle of Higher Education in a piece called “On Going Viral at the (Virtual) MLA.” Brian is also a contributing author for, can be found on Twitter as @briancroxall, and blogs at

Marilee Lindemann is associate professor of English and director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies at the University of Maryland. She is the author of Willa Cather: Queering America (Columbia UP, 1999) and numerous essays on Cather and queer/feminist literary studies. Her current work is focused on writing with new media, particularly blogs. She blogs regularly on the politics and economics of higher education on Roxie’s World. She has an essay just published in The Journal of Women’s History, “The Madwoman With a Laptop: Notes Toward a Literary Pre-History of Academic Fem Blogging;” the essay is part of a roundtable called “Women Gone Wild: Reflections on the Feminist Blogosphere,” edited by Claire Potter

Christopher Newfield is professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class (Harvard, 2008) and Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980 (Duke, 2003). He has written extensively on the crisis of funding in higher education, particularly in the state of California. His articles, white papers, and blog, Remaking the University, are indispensable resources on the myths, realities, and arcana of university budgeting.

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