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Mellon Modern Language Initiative Grant for Scholarly Books
February 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 22

University of Pennsylvania Press, Fordham University Press, University of California Press, University of Virginia Press, and University of Washington Press have been awarded a collaborative publishing grant of $1.16 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to publish scholarly books on the literatures of the non-Anglophone world. The Modern Language Initiative (MLI) will support the publication of 20 titles by each press over the next five years.

Despite increasing public interest in world literature and growing enrollment in foreign language classes nationwide, publishing opportunities for scholars in these fields have declined. This grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow each of the five presses to publish up to four titles per year for the next five years.

Books appropriate for the Modern Language Initiative will be published at the University of Pennsylvania Press in its long-established lists in interdisciplinary and comparative literary studies, from the medieval to the modern. Its Material Texts series, in particular, explores cultural technologies of communication—books, manuscripts, scrolls, films, graffiti, the actor’s voice—with particular attention to the ways that the specific materials in which linguistic communications are cast, affect their meaning.

This collaborative endeavor will offer authors a shared space for publishing innovative scholarship that will influence the way literature and other language-based arts are researched and taught. Each press will maintain its own separate editorial profile and acquisitions procedures, while centralizing copyediting, production, and an aggressive marketing program. The grant will be administered by Fordham University Press, which organized the cooperative effort and presented the proposal to the Foundation.

“There are fewer and fewer opportunities for scholars to find publishing outlets in the United States for work on non-English texts. With the support of the Modern Language Initiative, authors will have new opportunities to publish in this growing and vital field,” says Rosemary G. Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association.

Almanac - February 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 22