Submitting Manuscripts to PMLA

Editorial Policy for Essays

PMLA welcomes essays of interest to those concerned with the study of language and literature. As the publication of a large and heterogeneous association, the journal is receptive to a variety of topics, whether general or specific, and to all scholarly methods and theoretical perspectives. The ideal PMLA essay exemplifies the best of its kind, whatever the kind; addresses a significant problem; draws out clearly the implications of its findings; and engages the attention of its audience through a concise, readable presentation. Manuscripts in languages other than English are accepted for review but must be accompanied by a detailed summary in English (generally of 1,000-1,500 words) and must be translated into English if they are recommended to the Editorial Board. Articles of fewer than 2,500 words or more than 9,000 words are not considered for publication. The word count includes notes but excludes works-cited lists and translations, which should accompany foreign language quotations. The MLA urges its contributors to be sensitive to the social implications of language and to seek wording free of discriminatory overtones.

Only members of the association may submit articles to PMLA. For a collaboratively written essay to be eligible for submission, all coauthors must be members of the MLA. PMLA does not publish book reviews or new works of fiction, nor does it accept articles that were previously published in any language. An article is considered previously published if it appears in print or in an online outlet with the traits of publication, such as editorial selection of content, a formal presentation, and ongoing availability. Online contexts that typically lack these traits include personal Web pages, discussion groups, and repositories. Each article submitted is sent to two reviewers, usually one consultant reader and one member of the Advisory Committee. Articles recommended by these readers are then sent to the members of the Editorial Board, who meet periodically with the editor to make final decisions. Until a final decision is reached, the author's name is not made known to consultant readers, to members of the Advisory Committee and the Editorial Board, or to the editor. Because the submission of an article simultaneously to more than one refereed journal can result in duplication of the demanding task of reviewing the manuscript, it is PMLA's policy not to review articles that are under consideration by other journals. An article found to have been simultaneously submitted elsewhere will not be published in PMLA even if it has already been accepted for publication by the Editorial Board.

Submissions should follow MLA style as set out in the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook and should be sent electronically or, in duplicate, as hard copy to

Managing Editor
Modern Language Association
85 Broad Street, suite 500
New York, NY 10004-2434
phone: 646 576-5026 or 646 576-5024
fax: 646 458-0030

With each print submission please include a self-addressed envelope and enough postage for one copy to be returned. Authors' names should not appear on manuscripts; instead, a cover sheet, with the author's name and address and the title of the article, should accompany each manuscript. Authors should not refer to themselves in the first person in the submitted text or notes if such references would identify them; any necessary references to the author's previous work, for example, should be in the third person. If the contribution includes any materials (e.g., quotations that exceed fair use, illustrations, charts, other graphics) that have been taken from another source, the author must obtain written permission to reproduce them in print and electronic formats.

For detailed information on the review process for submitted essays, please send an inquiry to one of the addresses given above for PMLA submissions.

Special Topics

From time to time the Editorial Board invites essays on special topics designed to attract a wide readership. These groupings allow dialogue among essays and encourage in-depth investigation of the selected subjects. The board announces special topics in PMLA and in the MLA Newsletter well before the manuscript-submission deadlines. At least one coordinator is chosen to assist in the preparation of each special topic. Past topics include African and African American Literature; The Politics of Critical Language; Cinema; Theory of Literary History; Performance; Literature and the Idea of Europe; Literature and Censorship; Colonialism and the Postcolonial Condition; The Status of Evidence; The Teaching of Literature; Ethnicity; Ethics and Literary Study; Rereading Class; Globalizing Literary Studies; Mobile Citizens, Media States; America: The Idea, the Literature; Imagining History; Literatures at Large; Science Fiction and Literary Studies: The Next Millennium; On Poetry; The History of the Book and the Idea of Literature; Cities; Remapping Genre; Comparative Racialization; War; Literary Criticism for the Twenty-First Century; Celebrity, Fame, Notoriety; Work; Tragedy; Emotions; and Literature in the World. Suggestions for future topics are always welcome.

All manuscripts submitted for a special topic are subject to PMLA's editorial policy and format prescriptions. In submitting such manuscripts, members should indicate the topic for which the essays are to be considered. Manuscripts may be submitted anytime before the deadline and are processed as received. Submissions on the following topic are invited; the subtopics listed are provided by way of example and suggestion only:

Cultures of Reading
Deadline for submissions: 7 November 2016
Coordinators: Evelyne Ender (Johns Hopkins Univ.) and Deidre Lynch (Harvard Univ.)

What diverse practices, desires, and norms are concealed by the too familiar gerund in this title? What culturally specific and historically contingent institutions and techniques shape individuals’ encounters with their reading matter? Do those encounters serve ends beyond the decoding of meanings or the closing of a hermeneutic circle? Questions like these energize an emergent field of inquiry that involves, among others, literary critics, book historians, anthropologists, and scholars of religion.

The discipline of literary studies has a long-standing commitment to ideals of close and critical reading. As the scope of our discipline has broadened, however, so has our conception of what reading entails, inviting a new attentiveness to practices involving sociable groups as well as solitary individuals and to skimming and skipping as well as word-by-word analyses. These developments raise in turn historical or comparative questions. Consider, for example, the different assumptions about the relationship between verbal structures and mental states that inform the reading of scriptures, a novel, postings on Facebook, and an article in PMLA. A new readiness to explore the physical, temporal, and spatial modalities of reading has led scholars to scrutinize the material conditions of this activity at a time when our reading matter appears on a screen as often as it does in a codex. Our understanding of reading has been altered as well by the fact that many researchers in the humanities now delegate to their computers the task of culling information from extensive data sets of machine-readable texts. Prompted by such rapid technological changes, our discipline is reexamining the long history of reading and of reading experiences. New ethnographies have shown meanwhile that there is much to learn from the close study not only of texts but also of traces, alphabets, typefaces, and other signifying systems constitutive of distinctive communities.

The PMLA Editorial Board invites essays that build on these explorations of reading as a plural activity and that consider readers and the social institutions of literacy in any period or cultural tradition. Potential contributors are encouraged to think about reading expansively—and to consider it as a social practice that enrolls the reader in textual communities or as an integral aspect of particular forms of subjectivity or of memory. Submissions may, for example, consider religious reading and the relation between devotional practice and modern notions of literacy as a human right and a tool of human emancipation. They might consider the times and spaces that reading demands and creates. Other topics might include the effects of reading in translation (i.e., across languages and cultures); sociable modes of reading (the book club); reading and manners, good and bad; reading and vocalization or recitation; the marks and other traces that readers leave behind them; accounts of physiologies and pathologies of reading (such as addiction to novels or comics); the reading practices of digital natives.

Criticism in Translation

MLA members are invited to submit to the PMLA Editorial Board proposals for translations. Articles, as well as chapters or sections of books that can function as independent units, will be considered. The originals may be in any language. Two types of proposals are welcome: (1) significant scholarship from earlier periods that has not lost its forcefulness and whose retrieval in English in PMLA would be a noteworthy event for a broad body of readers and (2) contemporary work of sufficient weight and potential influence to merit the attention of the field as a whole.

A member who wishes to make a proposal should first ascertain that no previous English translation exists. The proposer should then provide the managing editor with the following materials: (1) a photocopy of the original essay, (2) an extended summary of the entire essay in English, (3) an introductory statement of approximately 1,000 words, prepared in accordance with MLA style, that will be published with the essay if the essay is accepted, (4) information on the copyright status of the original (if the translation is accepted for publication, the proposer will be responsible for obtaining permission to print it). In addition, if the proposer wishes to serve as translator of the essay or to designate a translator (who must also be an MLA member), a 1,000-word sample of the translation should be submitted; otherwise the Editorial Board will select a translator.

The translated essays should normally not exceed PMLA's 9,000-word limit. The Editorial Board will approve or decline the proposals, evaluate the quality of the translations, and cooperate with the proposers and translators.

Little-Known Documents

MLA members are invited to submit to the PMLA Editorial Board proposals regarding little-known documentary material that merits the attention of a broad range of readers. Consideration will be given to archival data from any period and in any language that do not exceed PMLA's 9,000-word limit.

A member who wishes to make a proposal should provide the managing editor with the following materials: (1) a photocopy of the document, (2) an extended summary of the document in English, (3) an introductory statement of approximately 1,000 words, prepared in accordance with MLA style, that will be published with the document if it is accepted, (4) information on the copyright status of the original (if the document is accepted for publication, the proposer will be responsible for obtaining permission to print it). In addition, if the document is not in English and if the proposer wishes to serve as translator or to designate a translator (who must also be an MLA member), the proposal should include a 1,000-word sample of the translation; otherwise the Editorial Board will select a translator of accepted non-English material. The Editorial Board will approve or decline the proposals.

Forum (Letters to the Editor)

PMLA invites members of the association to submit letters that comment on articles in previous issues or on matters of general scholarly or critical interest. The editor considers eligible letters for publication in the Forum, a section of the January, March, May, and October issues. The editor reserves the right to reject or edit Forum contributions and offers the PMLA authors discussed in published letters an opportunity to reply. Submissions of more than one thousand words are not considered. The journal omits titles before persons' names and discourages endnotes and works-cited lists in the Forum.

Letters should be e-mailed to or printed double-spaced and mailed to

PMLA Forum
Modern Language Association
85 Broad Street, suite 500
New York, NY 10004-2434