The American Literature Section’s operations are governed by its “Articles of Organization,” first adopted in 1947 and most recently amended in 2009.

2005 Articles of Organization of the American Literature Section of the MLA

*Updated 2008-09

This document was originally adopted on December 31, 1947 and has been revised and amended several times over the years. This version, which incorporates amendments approved in the fall of 2005, becomes the current “Articles of Organization” for distribution to members of the Section and of the American Literature Divisions.


Any member of the Modern Language Association who pays the American Literature Section yearly dues to the Journals Department of Duke University Press will be a voting member in good standing in the Section.

Officers and Offices

The officers of the Section will be a Chair, a Chair-elect, and the Executive Coordinator.

Offices of the organization will consist of an Advisory Council, an Executive Committee of three members, the Chairs of Standing Committees, the Secretaries of the five American Literature Divisions, and the Editor and the fifteen other members of the Board of Editors of American Literature.

Tenure of Office

The Chair of the Section will hold office for one year and will not be eligible for successive re-election. The Executive Coordinator will serve a four-year term on initial appointment and may be appointed to a second term.

Duties of Officers

Chair. In consultation with the Advisory Council, the Chair will plan and preside over the program and the open meeting of the Section. He or she will appoint one member of the Hubbell Award Committee, three members of the Foerster Award Committee, and the members of other committees recommended by the Advisory Council. He or she will observe the regulations established by the Modern Language Association for guidance of its organization.

Chair-elect. The Chair-elect will attend the Council meeting immediately following his or her election to office as an ex-officio member. He or she may assume other duties as sitting Council and Chair determine.

Executive Coordinator. The Executive Coordinator will maintain the files of the Section, handle daily correspondence, monitor the collection of dues by Duke University Press, pay the bills of the Section, organize the annual Section functions at MLA, order the Hubbell Medallion, conduct the annual election, work with the chair to plan and conduct the annual business meeting, work with the Chair and other members of the Advisory Council to run the Section, and compile, and publish the annual report.

Advisory Council

The Advisory Council will consist of the Chair of the Section and the Executive Coordinator, six members to be elected two each per year for terms of three years each, and the Chairs of each of the five American Literature Divisions. The six elected members will not be eligible for successive re-election. If any member of the Council expects to be absent from its annual business meeting, that member can give a proxy to vote to a person from the following group: the Chairs of the Standing Committees, the Editor and the Members of the Board of Editors of American Literature, and the Secretaries of the Division. The Council will hold at least one session at each business meeting of the Section.

The Council will make nominations to the standing committees, to the Board of American Literature, and to the Council and certify all nominations submitted by members of the Section; after the balloting is completed, it will certify the election of candidates duly chosen according to the provisions of these articles; and it will consider such matters of policy as may be brought before it and make appropriate recommendations to the Section and the Divisions.

Standing Committees

Members of these committees will be appointed by the Chair of the Section upon the recommendations of the Advisory Council or as specified herein.

1. Executive Committee. It will consist of the Chair of the Section, the Executive Coordinator, and one other member of the Section selected by the Chair. The immediate past Chair of the Section will serve as an ex officio advisory member of the Executive Committee. The Committee will have power in all urgent matters that require action between meetings of the Section.

2. Hubbell Award Committee. It will consist of five members, oriented to four regions and serving five-year terms. The Chair of the Award Committee will be the member serving his or her fifth and last term. The Committee will be responsible for nominating candidates for the Hubbell Medal according to provisions adopted by the Advisory Council. The Executive Committee will appoint the Executive Coordinator of the Section with the advice and consent of the Advisory Council.

3. Foerster Award Committee. It will consist of three voting members of the Section appointed annually by the Chair of the Section. It will be responsible for selecting the best essay in American Literature during the calendar year.

Nominations and Elections

The annual general election will include the officers of the Section and two members of the Advisory Council. The two members of the Advisory Council in the second of their three-year terms will constitute the annual slate for the election of the Chair of the Section. The winner of this election will serve as Chair in the following year. Nominations for the annual general election of the Section will come from a Nominations Committee of three members of the Advisory council chosen annually by the Chair of the Section.

Whenever vacancies occur in any elective offices, the Executive Committee will appoint a member of the section to serve out the unexpired terms in all cases except those of Chair and of Executive Coordinator. The Executive Coordinator will serve out the unexpired term of the Chair. The Advisory Council will appoint someone for the unexpired term of the Executive Coordinator. Should neither of the two eligible Advisory Council members be able to run for election as Chair, the Executive Committee will appoint a member of the Council to serve as Chair.

American Literature Divisions

In order to preserve the advantages of a unified American literature organization within the Modern Language Association, an organization that can effectively plan and sponsor projects research and publication, the divisions will be represented by voting members on the Advisory Council.

The Section and the Divisions will work intensively and conscientiously to preserve and strengthen the unity of the American literature establishment as a whole. If the officers and Executive Committee members are not already members in good standing of the Section, they should become members.


Proposed amendments to these Articles of organization originate with the Advisory Council. Copies of the amendments approved by the Council will be mailed to all members of the Section with the final ballots or published in the Executive Coordinator’s Report or in American Literature. Proposed amendments submitted to the Council too late to receive circulation before the annual meeting will not be voted on until the following year.

All ballots will be submitted in writing and signed. A proposed amendment will be adopted if approved by a majority of the total number of votes cast.