Friday, December 16, 2011


E. Ethelbert Miller asks: "What are you and Linda Selzer going to be doing on January 7th at the MLA Conference in Seattle?  What new forms of intellectual inquiry might one look forward to?"

Today's answer will be brief. Less a regular post or a brief essay than a kind of public service announcement.

The Modern Language Association selects different cities for its annual meeting. And in each city MLA features a conversation by a local writer and a literary scholar familiar with his or her work. This year English professors will descend upon Seattle from January 5 through 8. 

On Saturday the 7th from 5:15 to 6:30 PM, literary scholar Linda Furgerson Selzer, a professor at The Pennsylvania State University and author of Charles Johnson in Context (University of Massachusetts Press, 2009), will join me for a session titled "A Creative Conversation with Charles Johnson." Ours is session number 584 and is scheduled to take place in room 6A at the Washington State Convention Center.

It wouldn't be fair to Dr. Selzer for me to reveal too much about what she has planned for our session. So I'll offer no specific details. But I can generally say that earlier this week I received from her a very exciting outline for all that she would like to cover during our session at MLA. Really, it's a rich outline, touching on as many aspects of my life and work as she covers in her superb critical book. Her outline almost resembles a well-crafted script that will feature fiction reading and film, lively conversation and Q&A with the audience, and a tour through philosophical fiction, Western and Eastern. Dr. Selzer has planned this carefully, like a good director. Steven Spielberg couldn't have done it better. Judging from what I see in her outline, there will not be a dull moment during session 584.

So, if you plan on attending MLA in Seattle next month, please drop by room 6A at 5:15 PM. Dr. Selzer and I will do our best to entertain, please, and enlighten.