campus partner(s)

Modern Language Association






Fresh Thinking

award date


project director

Rosemary G. Feal

Modern Language Association

Grant Summary

$74,505 over 20 months. The Modern Language Association (MLA) proposes to reassess undergraduate majors in language and literature in the light of globalization, the proliferation of new media and its challenges to book culture, and vocational pressures. It is our view that a twenty-first-century liberal education must promote the linguistic powers, humanistic skills of analysis and argument, and cross-cultural awareness required for receiving and articulating ideas persuasively on an international stage, where the capacity to work comfortably in more than one language is the expectation and the norm. The MLA will focus on the problems today's language and literature classroom presents to both teachers and students. Study in language and literature engages oftentimes sensitive questions of moral and aesthetic value, social justice, social action, personal and collective identity, philosophical purpose, and religious belief. How can discussions and assignments best support liberal learning that will motivate a broader base student body to develop critical thinking, sophisticated writing, and cross-cultural understanding as students wrestle with the challenges presented by serious intellectual inquiry in language and literature? We will identify the knowledge and tools that teachers need to bring language, writing, and literature alive for students whose engagement with print culture is limited. We will suggest programs of study that will enable students who major in language and literature (whether in English or other language and literature departments) to pursue course itineraries that put them in touch with a broader array of intellectual resources than any single department contains and involve faculty members with appropriate expertise in a diversity of fields. Following different educational pathways, students at every level can constantly expand their capacities to read, write, and converse in English as well as develop fluency in one or two languages other than English. We wish to contribute positively to progress on educational problems associated with diversity and motivate change at the level both of individual teaching practice and programmatic organization with special reference to graduate education and the preparation of future faculty members.