Prehistory, History, and Constitution
Our prehistory begins with calls for papers for special sessions in the Modern Language Association newsletter in 1993, frequent unofficial meetings at the MLA, and a special session and a special event approved in 1996. At our organizational meeting at the MLA, December 28, 1998, we adopted a constitution, and in 1999 we published our first newsletter. The newsletter, now published electronically, continues as an annual event and is our main official communication to members. An electronic Mailman list for scholarly exchange has been developed since the May 2010 conference, improving on our earlier listserv. The dues are now $20 per year and always include the newsletter; they include the journal if it is published in the year the dues are paid.
In 2004 we began planning our first conference, and decided to invite historians and other scholars as well as literary critics and filmmakers to the University of Tampa in November 2005. Our second conference occurred at the University of Pittsburgh, and the main discipline we added was anthropology. Our third conference, at MIT, added especially philosophers and legal scholars. Throughout we have also included psychologists, activists, and other writers interested in cultural issues related to adoption. Our constitution reflects the literary interests of our beginnings, which we maintain, but our conferences and publications include scholarship from other fields as well.
Constitution: Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture (as amended)
I. Name of Organization
The name of this organization shall be the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture.
The purpose of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption, Identity, and Kinship is to promote the study of literary and cultural representations of adoption and related issues such as identity, displacement, and family construction. This organization will promote discussion of literary representations of adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents, and of related ideologies, practices, and institutions, including how writers’ involvement with adoption might relate to how they write about other matters; it will also deal with such related topics as literary representations of infertility, illegitimacy, orphanhood, single parenthood, stepparenthood, foster parenthood, wet-nursing, families created by new reproductive technologies, and other kinds of reconfigured families. It might also include representations in film, television, and other media.
In discussing the varying ways writers and cultures imagine adoption and other kinds of reconfigured and substitute families, the group might explore—without being limited to—such topics as adoption narratives and plot structures, the metaphorics of adoption, liteary treatments of identity and family construction in diverse family structures, and analyses of how literary works representing adoption and related issues show connections between the apparently private sphere and the public one. This organization will facilitate seeing both the changes and the continuities in the cultural imagination of adoption over time.
Through its annual meetings, sessions, special conferences, and newsletter, this organization provides communication among scholars interested in adoption and encourages the study of its literary and cultural representations.
A. Membership is open to anyone interested in the study of adoption and related issues in literature and culture. Individuals become members upon payment of dues.
B. Initial membership dues will be $5.00 per year. Later memership dues shall be set by the Executive Committee. [Currently they are set at $20 per year)
An annual membership meeting shall be held for reporting to the membership and conducting business. This meeting shall take place concurrently with the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association of America, or at a conference sponsored by the Alliance
V. Officers and Their Responsibilities
A. The officers of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture shall be a chair or two or three co-chairs and enough other members to make an executive committee of seven. Ordinarily, each elected officer (this first time determined at the 1998 Convention meeting) will serve two years. One or two of the first set of officers will serve a one-year term to allow for the election of one or two new members to the committee the following year. Nominations and elections may take place either at the annual meeting or by mail ballot.
B. The chair or co-chairs will preside at the annual meeting, and organize or appoint someone to organize the special session proposal for the MLA convention and/or MLA special events, such as poetry readings. The chair or co-chairs will work with the rest of the Executive Committee in circulating a newsletter. One member of the committee will keep track of dues and of using them to fund the newsletter and special events.
This constitution may be amended by a majority vote of the members in attendance at the annual business meeting.
Adopted December 28, 1998
Amended December 2004 (to raise the size of the executive committee from five), December 2006 (to allow the business meeting to take place at our own conference instead of the MLA, in years when we hold a conference), October 2007 (to change to “Adoption and Culture” from “Adoption, Identity and Kinship”