The Society for Critical Exchange

About Us

Brief History of the SCE


The SCE was founded in 1975 "to encourage cooperative inquiry and research in criticism and theory ." Among its founding members, Leroy Searle, James Sosnoski, and Patricia Harkin were especially important in giving the Society direction during its early years, first at the University of Washington, Seattle (1976-81) and later at Miami University of Ohio (1982-90). The oldest and for many years the only scholarly society devoted specifically to theory, it was instrumental in the institutionalization of theory in North American Literary Studies, and has gone on to innovate across traditional boundaries of the humanities and social sciences.
The SCE is organized around collaborative, often interdisciplinary research "projects" initiated and operated by its (approximately 800) members. It has consistently been in the vanguard of such study, organizing programs in such areas as:
  • the teaching of both theory and cultural studies
  • the role of men in feminism
  • disciplinarity and professionalization, especially of literary studies
  • the relation of authorship and the institutions of intellectual property
  • the relations of literature, culture, and economic
The most active current standing projects include Intellectual Property and the Construction of Authorship, New Economic Criticism, Cultures of Writing, and Woman, Nation, Narrative; new projects on Trust, Institutions of Aesthetics and Globalization and the Image are in their formative stages. There is no limit to the number of projects the SCE can support, and we are eager to hear your suggestions for new, fundable initiatives or for new directions within standing projects.
To facilitate these initiatives, the executive office of the SCE can often furnish administrative and financial assistance. New projects typically get underway at one of the regional MLA meetings, and are often developed at one or more of the SCE's standing sessions at the MLA convention. Ideally, from that springboard, projects will then be the subject of a dedicated conference or symposium (which the SCE will gladly help facilitate in material ways) and will in due course produce one or more publications.

An extended history of the society is available as part of the Modern Language Association's audit of Allied and Affiliate Organizations.


return to top