MLA 2015: No Strings Attached: The MacArthur Fellows Program and Contemporary American Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Marcy J. Dinius
contact email: 

This proposed special session at the 2015 MLA Convention in Vancouver will consider the influence of the so-called MacArthur "Genius Grants" on contemporary American literature. Since 1981, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation annually has bestowed substantial "no strings attached" grants to American writers as an "investment" in their "originality, insight, and potential." Especially welcome are papers assessing any aspect of the literary "returns" on these "investments"; how the grants interact with--or challenge--the dynamics of the traditional literary marketplace; and the grants situated within a long view of American writers' means of support (patronage, editing, teaching, other day jobs, prize collecting). Please submit a 250-word abstract and a CV by 15 March to