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Herbert Lindenberger elected VP of Modern Language Association

STANFORD -- Herbert Lindenberger, professor of comparative literature and English, has been elected second vice president of the Modern Language Association, effective Jan. 1.

He now is in line to become the organization's 107th president in 1997, and will be the first elected to the leadership post while on the Stanford faculty.

With membership of more than 31,000, the Modern Language Association is the largest professional organization for the humanities in the United States.

Founded in 1883 to challenge the dominance of ancient language study, the association originally focused on languages and literatures of European countries. Later it added North American literatures, and in recent years it has branched out to include language and literature study of former European colonies, including Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Through its publications and sessions at its annual convention, the association also has embraced scholars of postmodern writing and the history of science, as well as those working on ethnic and gay and lesbian studies. The latter has sparked criticism from some conservatives in the media.

"I see my task as making it clear that there is room for everybody," said Lindenberger, who noted that the range of scholarship represented when he joined 40 years ago was quite narrow. "I'm happy that scholarly methods have been modernized and that the range of texts written about and taught by members also has expanded."

As an officer of the association, Lindenberger said he would work on issues relating to the reduction in academic job opportunities and the exploitation of temporary and part-time academic workers.

He is particularly concerned, he said, with the need to match likely job prospects with the number of students admitted for graduate work. "We should get universities to think rationally about the numbers of people they train so you don't have a situation like the present one, where someone works six to eight years on a Ph.D. and then can find nothing except temporary or part-time work."

Lindenberger received his bachelor's degree in literature at Antioch College in 1951 and attended the University of Vienna on a Fulbright Fellowship in 1952-53. In 1955, he earned his doctorate from the University of Washington in comparative literature, with special emphasis on English, German and French literature of the 19th and 20th centuries.

After teaching at the University of California-Riverside and Washington University in St. Louis, Lindenberger came to Stanford in 1969 to found the Comparative Literature Program. He chaired the program, which is now a department, until 1982. He has held the Avalon Foundation Professorship in the Humanities since he joined the faculty.

In 1991-92, Lindenberger served as interim director of the Stanford Humanities Center, which he helped found in 1980. Other Stanford experience includes many terms as a member of the Faculty Senate. He also was a member of the seven-member faculty Advisory Board from 1986 to 1989.



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