Drs. Jesse Alemán and Danizete Martínez, of the English departments at UNM’s main campus and the UNM-Valencia branch campus, respectively, have had their individual conference panels selected as “Presidential Theme” sessions at the January 3-5, 2018 Modern Language Association Convention in New York City.

Dr. Alemán will preside over a panel titled “Black Literature Matters,” which features four speakers who will present on the challenges, strategies, and practices of researching and teaching African-American, Afro-Latina/o, and black Caribbean literatures in college classrooms in an age of racial tension, social protest, and entrenched institutional racism on and off campus.

Dr. Martínez’s panel, “Addressing Poverty, Silence, and Resistance in the Classroom,” features three presentations that explore how instructors can engage in a productive and non-judgmental way students who experience some form of impoverishment. The speakers will discuss critical pedagogy in the composition classroom; alternatives to academic writing; and community-based volunteerism as a form of retention for place-based teaching.

The Modern Language Association is the main professional organization for the study and teaching of languages and literatures. Each year, the MLA’s Program Committee identifies key sessions from its over 800 panels that fall under the purview of the conference’s annual “Presidential Theme.” This year’s theme is “#States of Insecurity,” which MLA president Diana Taylor explains, “invites reflection on how our intellectual, artistic, and pedagogical work in the humanities offers strategies for navigating crises of our time” (https://www.mla.org/Convention/MLA-2018/2018-Presidential-Theme).

Selected sessions receive special billing, are covered by the MLA’s media crew, and are identified to local media outlets for further coverage.

The “Black Literature Matters” panel is one of three sessions offered by the MLA’s Committee on the Literatures of People of Color in the United States and Canada, on which Dr. Alemán sits as the incoming chair (https://clpc.mla.hcommons.org/). The “Addressing Poverty” panel is sponsored by the MLA’s Committee on Community Colleges (https://www.mla.org/About-Us/Governance/Committees/Committee-Listings/Professional-Issues/Committee-on-Community-Colleges), on which Dr. Martínez sits as an executive council member.

Dr. Alemán is a Presidential Teaching Fellow and the Director of Literature in the English Department at UNM’s Main Campus, and Dr. Martínez is an associate professor of English and the Chair of Communications, Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences at UNM-Valencia.