Dear Women’s Caucus Member,
Many of you have received my letters urging you to renew your subscriptions, and you have responded. Others, after this year’s MLA, are members for the first time or are returning to active membership. (I’m attaching the renewal letter below my signature so that I don’t repeat the crucial need for WCML in the current academic environment.) All of you, by dint of being members, obviously know the importance of the Women’s Caucus’s continuing existence in a climate that sometimes seems dismayingly like that in which the organization was first founded. I am writing to ask you to take one more step in supporting the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages by becoming a member of the Executive Committee.
Over the last several years, the Executive Committee of the Women’s Caucus has worked vigorously to address issues of professional concern in our well-attended panels, to form collaborations with the other feminist allied organizations through panels and the annual cash bar, and to increase membership. We have succeeded marvelously on the first two counts, and continue to struggle with the third. Most recently, we have made membership free to graduate students (see http://www.wcml.org/) and we continue to advocate for the interests of all women in the academic workplace.
The members of the Executive Committee have generously directed a part of their formidable activism, commitment, and organizational skills to the survival of this group, extending their terms to help assure WCML’s stability. Two of our current EC members, Teresa Mangum and Kirsten Christensen, are stepping down because of other obligations. Both have been exemplary in their thoughtfulness, dedication, and intelligence: we all owe them our thanks.
I became President of the WCML several years ago precisely because the group was at risk of not being renewed because of its low membership. I am asking you to follow the same counter-intuitive logic in becoming a part of the Executive Committee and assuring that the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages will be in place to advocate for the next generation of women. The charge of the new EC members is not onerous: one will have primary responsibility for the annual Florence Howe and Annette Kolodny Awards (the readers have already volunteered for next year); the other is a member-at-large. Both, however, will work with Roseanna Dufault, our unflagging Treasurer, Monica Miller, our Communications Officer, and me to plan annual MLA events, identify member concerns, and help to assure that WCML is able to pass its next MLA review. Attendance at the annual convention and our annual business meeting is preferred, although not required. The term is three years.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 22 with a brief statement of interest and experience if you are willing to help rejuvenate the Women’s Caucus by becoming a member of our Executive Committee. It’s important.
Dean of the Graduate School
Professor of English & Women’s & Gender Studies
Editor, SUNY Feminist Theory and Criticism series
President, Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
225 578 4086 (phone)
225 578 4129 (fax)
Over Ten Million Served
I am writing to thank your for your continued membership in the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages. As we prepare for the end of another year, what remains unchanging is our need for this women’s organization. Attached are the schedules for our panels and gathering at the Modern Language Association convention. If you are going to be at MLA 2016 in Austin, come join us to lift your voice and to lift a glass with like-minded colleagues at our panels and at our annual cash bar, organized with the support of Feministas Unidas, Women in French, and Women in German.
My welcoming your active engagement is not just for the pleasure of getting to know you, but also because I deeply believe that the work of the Women’s Caucus continues to be central during these difficult times in higher education. It seems as though every week brings new grim headlines about program cuts or contentious administration decisions. These changes have disproportionate impact upon women and minorities, whether tenured full professors, contingent workers, or graduate students struggling to find full-time employment in the fields for which they’ve been preparing for years.
Nearly 60% of doctorates in languages and literature are now held by women, and that is cause for celebration. However, barely a fourth of faculty positions are now tenured or tenured-track: a reversal of statistics a mere thirty years ago. The face of the new workforce known as “contingent faculty” is often a woman’s. Whether teaching foreign languages, staffing first-year writing classes, or instructing general education students, women are all too often carrying major institutional burdens while watching hard-won gains erode.
WCML has spent the past several years reorganizing and focusing our attention on these pressing issues. We have coordinated and collaborated on presentations which address a variety of topics, including feminist activism in the academy, empowered retirement, digital and public humanities, the “alt-ac” track, and feminist vulnerability on the “post-feminist” campus.
The Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages exists to bring us together for common cause. Please forward membership information to your students and colleagues and join us at MLA in Austin so that we can talk about initiatives that will help to support women’s scholarship in the literatures and languages as well as to maintain or produce working conditions that will make the creation of such scholarship possible in the years ahead.
Moving forward, we are eager to not only hear your ideas and priorities for feminist scholars today, but to include new perspectives on our executive board. If you are interested in volunteering yourself, nominating someone, or simply learning more about this commitment, please don’t hesitate to contact us. And if you cannot bring your ideas to Austin in person, please let us know your thoughts about strategies, initiatives, and projects at http://www.wcml.org/ or email me at email@example.com. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.