I went on a brief trip to Chicago–for the College Language Association’s (CLA) annual convention–late last week. The conference is always a treat, and I can’t believe I hadn’t attended since 2012!
CLA was founded in 1937 by Black scholars and educators to strengthen teaching and scholarship in literature(s) and language(s). The organization was formed because, at that time, Black scholars were excluded from the Modern Language Association (MLA), which is considered the “flagship” organization for English and Language professors. Like today’s MLA, CLA’s membership is open to all scholars in literature and language studies.
The annual convention is a huge academic reunion, where we test theories, exchange ideas, and (re)connect with friends from our undergraduate and graduate school years, former students–now professors themselves–our own former professors and mentors, and colleagues from all over.
Today, many CLA members, like me, are members of both organizations. As much as I appreciate MLA, it is CLA that gives me a sense of purpose, affirmation, and community.
I read a quote yesterday, posted by a friend on Instagram, that perfectly expresses how I feel about the conference:
Paradise has never been about places. It exists in moments. In connection. In flashes across time. –Victoria Erickson
CLA is about the moments we get to spend together as scholars and friends who support, encourage, and inspire each other.