MLA Teaching Volume: "Teaching Economics and American Literature"

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Katharine A. Burnett, Fisk University
contact email: 

Teaching Economics and American Literature, edited by Katharine A. Burnett and Amy K. King

Deadline: 1 November 2021

Scholars have long emphasized the economic implications of literature and literary production. This includes how authors represent the economic forces that shape their lives and communities; how financial structures influence the writing and circulation of literature; and also the less tangible connections between economic histories and literary form. Within the context of American literature—whether written in and about the United States or emerging from transatlantic, circum-Caribbean, inter-American, or transpacific contexts—the intersections of economic realities and literary expression touch on topics that form the crux of American culture and identity. Aiming to highlight these important issues in the classroom, this collection will focus on broad and interdisciplinary approaches for teaching economics and American literature.

The collection will be divided into two parts: essays that address larger conceptual approaches to teaching the subject and essays that offer concrete methodologies that can be used in the classroom, such as specific syllabi, lessons, or assignments. At this time, we ask for proposals for essays that would contribute to either part, possibly focusing on or making connections between one or more of the approaches below (though proposals are not limited to these):


  • The roles of larger economic structures in shaping American literature and literary production, broadly conceived (e.g., processes of settler colonialism; the plantation and its afterlives; labor organization; agriculture, commercial and noncommercial; industrialization; transatlantic slavery; globalization; automation of labor; neoliberalism; neocolonialism)

  • Work and labor, defined broadly (e.g., manual, domestic, migrant, or intellectual)

  • New approaches to significant texts or authors that engage with economic or financial questions and concepts

  • Literary form and aesthetics within the contexts of economic patterns

  • The literary marketplace throughout time (e.g., “the novel”; periodicals; genres; modes; popular book clubs and canonicity; academic publishing industries)

  • Archives and archival work inside and outside the classroom

  • Methods to develop self-reflective planning and scaffolding for community-based and experiential learning, collaborative learning, or team teaching

  • The economics of accessibility of or in American literature

  • Economic structures of American institutions of higher education (i.e., concerns around student enrollment; student and faculty demographics; financial concerns for students and faculty members; economics and finance related to different types of institutions, such as land-grant universities, historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, or community colleges; disaster capitalism; the history of higher education and economic structures, such as slavery)

  • Transnational, multilingual, or comparative approaches to teaching economics and American literature

  • Perspectives of teaching economics and American literature at institutions around the world


By 1 November 2021, please submit 250–500 word abstracts and a short, 100-word bio to Katharine A. Burnett ( and Amy K. King (, with the subject line “Teaching Economics and American Literature.” Please specify if the essay will address (a) a conceptual approach or (b) a concrete example of a syllabus, lesson, or assignment.

Formal proposals to the publisher will then go out; accepted proposals will be expected to submit a finished essay of 3,000–4,000 words (varying by type and content) by 31 January 2023. Feel free to send queries with any questions regarding proposals (including feedback on ideas) at any time.

Permission from students must be obtained for any relevant quotations in the essay. Previously published essays cannot be considered. Learn more about the MLA’s guidelines for submissions.