The annual meeting of the Modern Language Association (27-30 December) convened in Chicago and featured two sessions devoted exclusively to Milton and several others in which papers concerned with the author or his works were presented. On 27 December, Mimi Fenton chaired the session “John Milton: Land, Space, and Place.” The panelists included Ken Hiltner (“Is Paradise Lost? John Milton and the Contemporary Christian Debate”), Linda K. Gregerson (“Milton and Displacement”), and Rachel J. Trubowitz (“Dead Space and Memory Sites in Milton's Writings”). Later that evening, in a session entitled “Poetry and Performance in Early Modern England,” Anthony K. Welch read the paper “Oral and Literary Epic in Milton's England.” While devoted ostensibly to Andrew Marvell, on 28 December, two of the presenters in an early morning session on “Andrew Marvell and Allusion,” Nicholas von Maltzahn (“Death by Drowning: Marvell's ‘Lycidas’ ”) and Karen Edwards (“Milton and Marvell: Defending England against the Lycanthropes”), discussed his more famous contemporary. The General Session on Milton did not take place until Saturday morning, 29 December. “John Milton: Ethics and Epistemology,” chaired by Paul Stevens, included talks by Feisal G. Mohamed (“Areopagitica and a New Ethics of Reading; or, The Rebirth of the Author”), Marshall Grossman (“Reading Milton's Ethics of Nomination”), and Gordon Teskey (“Delirium and Truth”). Two final presentations concerned with Milton were those by Tom Luxon (“Puritan Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage: A Presentist Perspective?”) and Crystal Lynn Bartolovich (“1659 and Paradise Lost”).

On the evening of 28 December, the Milton Society of America held its annual dinner, this time in the Chicago City Center on West Adams street. The after-dinner talk, “A Checkered Career: Fumbles, Foibles, and Luck,” was given by Professor Robert T. Fallon, this year's honored scholar. The proceedings of the society, prepared by its secretary, Professor Albert C. Labriola of Duquesne University, include the following summary details.

The officers and Executive Committee met in a preliminary session at 4:00 pm at the West Chicago City Center. Present were Paul Stevens (president), Kristin Pruitt (vice president), Labriola (secretary), Diana Treviño Benet (treasurer), and the following members of the Executive Committee: Margaret Arnold, Mary Fenton, Thomas Luxon, William Shullenberger, and Nicholas von Maltzahn. Excused was Gregory Machacek.

  • 1
    Officers and Executive Committee. The following members of the society were nominated for offices: Kristin Pruitt for president; Tom Luxon for vice president; and for three-year membership (2008-10) on the Executive Committee, Ken Hiltner and Nigel Smith, succeeding Margaret Arnold and Tom Luxon.
  • 2
    Treasurer's Report. Benet indicated that the assets and net worth of the society as of 1 July 2007 were $11,529.59. Benet and Labriola stressed the importance of donations and space advertisements as sources of revenue in order to stabilize the cost of the annual dinner at $55.00. This year there were 12 full-page advertisements.
  • 3
    Committee on Scholarly Awards. The chair of the Committee on Scholarly Awards is David Loewenstein, and other members are Barbara K. Lewalski and John Rogers.
  • 4
    Secretary's Report. Labriola indicated that his announcements are printed on pages 5-7 of the annual booklet. He announced the names of the members of the society who are recently deceased: Kelsie Harder, Gregory Bredbeck, and Michael Fixler.
    He also reported on proposed changes in the structure of the MLA, changes that would reduce the number of open meetings sponsored by allied organizations from two to one. He indicated that the Milton Society of America will join with other allied organizations, most notably the ones dealing with literature before 1800, to contest this proposal.
  • 5
    Open Meetings at MLA 2008 in San Francisco. The following open meetings, each 75 minutes long, were approved:
    • A. 
      “John Milton at 400 : A General Session (I),” with Kristin Pruitt presiding; and
    • B. 
      “John Milton at 400 : A General Session (II),” with Margaret Arnold presiding.
  • Those planning to submit papers should be mindful of the following:

    • a. 
      The chairs should receive papers, not longer than eight double-spaced pages, by e-mail not later than 15 March; or at least a one-page abstract. Usually, three papers are chosen, and the chair may appoint a respondent, or two longer papers may be selected, with or without a respondent, or a panel discussion might be organized. It is essential, however, to provide time for questions and comments by attendees.
    • b. 
      The chairs must submit the names of participants, academic affiliations, and titles of presentations to Labriola ( not later than 1 April.
    • c. 
      Labriola will place an announcement concerning the open meetings in the upcoming MLA Newsletter; Jameela Lares, who succeeds Diana Treviño Benet as treasurer, will also include notice in her upcoming letter to all members, and the chairs of the open meetings are urged to publicize in other ways.
    • d. 
      All presenters must be members of MLA. If not, they must join by 1 April unless their specialty is something other than language and literature, in which case they must seek, through Labriola, special permission for their participation from the MLA Executive Director.
    • e. 
      Chairs of the two sessions are encouraged to be in contact with each other in order to coordinate the makeup of their programs.

The officers and Executive Committee deliberated the possibility of a special program for the dinner and meeting in 2008, which is the 60th anniversary of the Milton Society (1948-2008) and the 400th anniversary of Milton's birth (1608-2008). Ideas that were considered include the following: (1) an invitation to Philip Pullman to speak about Milton's influence on his writing. Milton's influence on children's literature and popular culture would thereby be stressed. (2) Brief presentations by previous honored scholars of the society, who would recount highlights or memorable experiences from the dinner meetings.

Approximately 75 members and guests attended the dinner and meeting at which Stevens presided.

  • 1
    The nominees for office (see Item 1 above) were elected by acclamation.
  • 2
    Labriola announced that Diana Treviño Benet was stepping down as treasurer after a decade of service. The attendees gave a standing ovation as a gesture of gratitude.
  • 3
    Labriola announced the two open meetings at MLA 2008 (see Item 5 above).
  • 4
    The James Holly Hanford Award for a distinguished book was awarded to Gordon Teskey, Delirious Milton: The Fate of the Poet in Modernity (Harvard UP, 2006). The James Holly Hanford Awards for distinguished essays were awarded to Daniel Shore, “‘Fit Though Few’: Eikonoklastes and the Rhetoric of Audience,”Milton Studies 45 (2006): 129-48 and Elizabeth Sauer, “Milton's Of True Religion, Protestant Nationhood, and the Negotiation of Liberty,”Milton Quarterly 40 (2006): 1-19.
  • 5
    The Irene Samuel Memorial Award recognized the excellence of the multiauthor collection titled Milton in the Age of Fish: Essays on Authorship, Text, and Terrorism, Michael Lieb and Albert C. Labriola, eds. (Duquesne UP, 2006).
  • 6
    The John T. Shawcross Award for a distinguished chapter on Milton in a monograph that covers other authors or engages topics that bear on seventeenth-century England was won by Jason P. Rosenblatt, “Selden and Milton on Gods and Angels,” in Renaissance England's Chief Rabbi: John Selden (Oxford UP, 2006), 74-92.
  • 7
    The featured address, “A Checkered Career: Fumbles, Foibles, and Luck,” was given by Robert T. Fallon.
  • 8
    Albert C. Labriola, Acting Dean, McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, Duquesne University, cited Robert T. Fallon, Emeritus Professor of English, La Salle University, as Honored Scholar 2007.
  • 9
    At the executive session after the general business meeting, the following were present: Pruitt (president), Luxon (vice president), Labriola (secretary), Lares (treasurer), and the following members of the Executive Committee: Mary Fenton, Bill Shullenberger, Ken Hiltner, Nicholas von Maltzahn, Gregory Machacek. Excused was Nigel Smith.
  • 10
    Labriola was reappointed Secretary for 2008.
  • 11
    Jameela Lares succeeded Diana Treviño Benet as treasurer. Diana was praised for her decade of service. Lares was empowered to choose a site for the 2008 dinner and meeting in San Francisco.
  • 12
    Kristin Pruitt requested further recommendations for the special program at the dinner meeting in 2008.