Aiding the Scholarly Journey: The Humanities Take on Societal Crises

Sponsored by Modern Language Association

Recorded on 05/19/2021
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 192

Paula Krebs, Executive Director of the Modern Language Association, definitely did not expect insurrectionists to storm the US Capitol the day before the 2021 MLA Annual Convention. However, when she re-recorded her introductory video to reflect the societal temperature, she found that her most salient points remained—whether in crisis or not, the Humanities help us sift through and make sense of the nonsensical. “I wanted to let them know that the convention was a place that’s in the culture, not separate from the culture … and only after and with the kind of informed critical analysis of the Humanities can any kind of change happen.”

In this third episode, Paula unpacks how the Humanities have been affected and possibly invigorated by new and enduring crises like the coronavirus pandemic and a fraught political climate. Paula also digs into the inequitable effects COVID-19 has had on higher education, as well as encouraging changes in accessibility spurred by our current digital learning environment.

About the guest:

Paula M. Krebs
Executive Director
Modern Language Association

Paula M. Krebs became executive director of the Modern Language Association in August 2017. She administers the programs, governance, and business affairs of the association and is general editor of the association’s publishing and research programs, as well as editor of two association publications. She serves as an ex officio member of all committees and commissions of the association, chairs the committee that oversees the planning of the association’s annual convention, works with the MLA’s trustees in evaluating and implementing investments of the MLA’s endowment funds, and chairs the staff Finance Committee.

Krebs previously served as the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University, where she worked closely with the college’s faculty members on strategic planning and increased connections between the campus and the community. She organized a regional consortium of employers, public humanities representatives, and higher education leaders to develop strategies for defining and measuring the postgraduation success of humanities majors. Before arriving at Bridgewater State, she was special assistant to the president for external relations at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow in the president’s office of the University of Massachusetts, and a professor and department chair at Wheaton. She has also been a regular contributor to higher education publications, including the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog Vitae.

A member of the MLA Executive Council from 2013 to January 2017, Krebs also served on the executive committee of the MLA’s Association of Departments of English (2003–05). She served on the Massachusetts ACE Women’s Network Board of Directors and was a member of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Board of Directors from 2009 to 2015.

Krebs earned a PhD in English from Indiana University, where she specialized in Victorian literature and culture, and a BA from La Salle College (now La Salle University).

Enjoy the conversation? Check out the rest of the series:

Listen to our previous conversation with MLA, The Demand for Digital Literacy:

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