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ACLA state of the discipline report

We’re writing with an update on the upcoming ACLA Report on the State of the Discipline. As you may know, the ACLA constitution mandates that we produce such a report at roughly ten-year intervals. The last two reports appeared in 1994 (Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism, edited by Charles Bernheimer) and 2004 (Comparative Literature in the Age of Globalization, edited by Haun Saussy), respectively. It’s now time for the report for the 2010 decade.

The 2015 report will be edited and produced by an editorial team, headed by Ursula K. Heise (UCLA), and will appear initially online, with a launch date of March 15, 2014, just before our annual convention in New York. The report will publish new content for approximately 12 months, through April 2015, just after the annual conference in 2015.

We are writing  to invite you to participate in the production and distribution of the 2015 report in the following ways:

1.       January 2014: ACLA and the Association of Departments and Programs of Comparative Literature are sponsoring two linked panels at the annual MLA conference. The panels, “Comparative Literature: The Last Ten Years” and “Comparative Literature: The Next Ten Years,” will take place from 8:30-9:45 and 10:00-11:45 in the Sheraton I room at the Sheraton Hotel. Please join us for talks by Jessica Berman, Waïl Hassan, Haun Saussy, and Jennifer Wenzel (“The Last Ten Years”); and by Jonathan Culler, César Domínguez, Ursula Heise, Atia Sattar, and Corinne Scheiner (“The Next Ten Years”).

2.       March 2014: The  Report website will launch just before the ACLA Annual Conference. At that point the Editorial Team will begin accepting submissions to the report from all ACLA members. Please begin thinking about whether you are interested in submitting to the report, which will publish peer-reviewed content in a variety of formats, described below. Also, please join us at the Annual Conference for Eric Hayot’s Presidential Address, which will address the report and the current state of the discipline (Saturday, March 22, 2014).

3.       March 2014-April 2015: The Report will be open for submissions in the following categories:
Written submissions to the Paradigms section are limited to 5,000 words or, for audio and video formats, 25 minutes. Paradigms submissions address the relationship between Comparative Literature (as institution, discipline, practice, mode of thought, or ideal) and one or more major research areas or  concepts with which it interacts. These research areas or concepts may be institutional, philosophical, disciplinary or interdisciplinary, aesthetic, or political; they may involve longstanding areas of intellectual concern for the discipline (translation, theory, language), perennial or “residual” areas of engagement (reading, tradition), or emergent fields (the environmental humanities, quantitative analysis) likely to affect Comparative Literature’s development.
EDITORS: David Damrosch, Ursula Heise

Written submissions to the Practice section are limited to 2,500 words or, for audio and video formats, 15 minutes. Practice submissions address the institutional, methodological and practical grounds of the field, and are subdivided into the three categories of Research (for submissions that treat, for instance, the last decade of thinking about archival work, or the ways the internet has shaped scholarship); Teaching (for submissions that center in and around the classroom); and Institutions (for submissions that treat the institutional status of Comparative Literature, or that tell stories of successes, failures, or new challenges). Under the Teaching rubric the Report will also publish syllabi, which will be grouped roughly by theme or course topic (e.g. World Literature, Translation Studies). Submitted syllabi should highlight new directions in teaching practice or novel approaches to a specific field. Syllabi will not be peer-reviewed. If you submit a syllabus, please strip out boilerplate course policy information, email addresses, phone numbers, and the like. You may also include in the PDF examples of innovative course assignments. Total size of the PDF file for syllabi is limited to 5 pages.
EDITORS: César Domínguez, Jessica Berman.

Written submissions to the Futures section are limited to 2,500 words or, for audio and video formats, 15 minutes. Futures submissions explore possible directions for the next decade or more of Comparative Literature as a field. They may be written as prophecy or as history, that is, from a self-consciously speculative perspective or a fictionalized reportorial one. The goal of the section is to ask us to imagine—both within and without the framework of the likely or the probable—what Comparative Literature might become. Rumors that prizes for the most accurate predictions will be handed out on the occasion of the 2024 report will have to wait one decade to be confirmed.
EDITORS: Alexander Beecroft, Dudley Andrew.

Ideas of the Decade
Written submissions to the Ideas of the Decade section are limited to 600 words or, for audio and video formats, 5 minutes. Submissions should address one (or more) major idea of the decade since the last major ACLA Report (that is, 2003-present), though of course to be “major” for the decade an idea need not have been invented or first expressed during that time period.
EDITORS: Eric Hayot, Barbara Harlow.

4.       April 2015: The 2015 Annual Conference (to be held in Seattle on March 26-29) will feature several panels devoted to discussion and analysis of the report; it will also mark the official close of the report, as the Editorial Team moves toward the publication of a print version. The report will remain online on the ACLA website in its final state.

We hope that you’ll find these opportunities to reflect on the state of comparative literature engaging and exciting. We encourage you to consider submitting material in one of the four major formats; the report will only be as strong as its content, and thus only as strong as the ACLA membership collectively works to make it.

If you have any questions, please be in touch. And please feel free to contact members of the Editorial Team with any questions you have. Their names and email addresses are listed below.

In the meantime, we offer you our best wishes for a pleasant and stress-free December and, especially for those of you on a northern American teaching calendar, a happy end of the semester.

With best wishes,
Eric Hayot, President
American Comparative Literature Association

Ursula Heise, Managing Editor
State of the Discipline Report

Editorial Board:
Usula K. Heise (
Dudley Andrew (
Alexander Beecroft (
Jessica Berman (
David Damrosch (
César Domínguez (
Barbara Harlow (
Eric Hayot (

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