Comparative Literature Today--Roundtable

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Richard Schumaker/Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

This roundtable will exchange perceptions and experiences on the state of comparative literature both in the US and worldwide today. Our session will explore the following questions:

· What are the methods of analysis that are specific to comparative literature?

· What are the concrete experiences of “comparistes” in their teaching and research today?

· How can teachers of comparative literature promote their area of interest in academia and the community? 

· What contributions can teachers and researchers in comparative literature make to creative curriculum develop today?

Comparative literature today, at least in the United States, exists on a peculiar fault line: on the one hand, there is universal agreement that programs at all levels should contain a global or international perspective; on the other hand, the teaching of foreign languages has been imploding for decades:

· Only about 20% of US elementary schools have any foreign language teaching.

· For languages other than English, Spanish, and French (14%), the participation in foreign language classes in 2009 is 4% (German) or lower (Italian about 1%; Chinese about 1%; Japanese less than 1%; Russian about .1%)

· Even large and diverse states have very weak participation in foreign language classes at the secondary level (2009):

o California 15%

o NY 27%

o VA 20 %

· Other states have even lower rates (2009):

o Arizona 9%

o Nebraska 12%

o Idaho 12%

o Montana 10%

· At the tertiary level, language enrollments are in decline and this decline has been tracked carefully by MLA: https://apps.mla.org/pdf/2013_enrollment_survey.pdf

Because this is a roundtable we welcome all perspectives on the state of comparative literature today. Here is a very partial list of possible directions that presentations might take:

· Methodologies used in the analysis of literature and culture that are specific to comparative literature

· Literature that requires a comparative approach

· Any reflection on the causal factors in language teaching/learning decline

· Exemplary programs at any level

· New possibilities of foreign language or literature study that result from digital teaching

· New technologies for language learning

· Case studies on curriculum issues

· New trends in comparative literature

· Reflections on the PMLA special edition of October 2016, “Literature in the World.”

This panel is not restricted to the situation of comparative literature in North America. We welcome submissions from any country or region. Because of the importance of elementary and secondary teaching of LOTE to this profession, reflection on these contexts are welcome.

Please submit a 150 word abstract to the NeMLA portal.