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Instructions for contributors

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.


To be eligible for review, manuscripts must meet the following requirements:

MLA membership. Authors must be members of the MLA. (For a collaboratively written essay to be eligible for review, all coauthors must be members of the MLA.)

Author anonymity. 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.

Word length. Articles must be between 6,000 and 9,000 words. The word count includes discursive notes but excludes works-cited lists and translations.

Originality. Articles cannot have been 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.

Exclusive submission. Articles cannot be under consideration by other journals or publishers. An article found to have been simultaneously submitted elsewhere will not be published in PMLA even if it has already been accepted for publication by the Editorial Board.

Language. Manuscripts in languages other than English 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. Translations should accompany all foreign language quotations.

ScopePMLA does not publish book reviews or new works of fiction. Submissions should be broadly of interest to those concerned with the study of language and literature.

QualityPMLA publishes the best of its kind. Works that demonstrate egregious signs of poor quality (e.g., lack of scholarly apparatus when relevant, evidence of extreme carelessness in preparation) cannot be sent for review.

Submission Procedures

MLA style. Manuscripts should follow MLA style as set out in the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook. The MLA urges its contributors to be sensitive to the social implications of language and to seek wording free of discriminatory overtones.

Cover sheet. 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.

Permissions. 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.

Please submit manuscripts (as Word files) through PMLA's ScholarOne site.

Review Process

Each article submitted and eligible for peer review is sent to at least two reviewers. 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 readers, to members of the Editorial Board, or to the editor. For detailed information on the review process for submitted essays, please send an inquiry to

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. A special topic is composed primarily of full-length essays that go through the regular PMLA review process; in addition, coordinators write an introduction to the topic and can commission up to two full-length essays and material for Theories and Methodologies and The Changing Profession (among other sections of the journal), to round out the submissions received through peer review. 


Deadline for submissions: 30 June 2021

Coordinator: A. E. B. Coldiron (Florida State Univ. and Univ. of St Andrews)

In our era of increasing globalization, destabilized national boundaries, and mass migrations, it is not surprising that the complex and critical practice of translation has taken on new importance and sparked intense scholarly, cultural, and ideological debates in our profession. The time has passed when translations were valued for their faithfulness to an original and translators were considered servile copyists whose role was to remain invisible. Scholars now explore translation as a process of creative remaking: an inventive engagement with an earlier text and its literary and linguistic systems, usually tied to broader cultural or historical phenomena. Especially today, it is crucial to understand translations’ mediated and mediating encounters with the foreign. A powerful, flexible instrument of contact and connection across time and space, translation is never inert; it is always a dynamic site of aesthetic and cultural negotiations.

The PMLA Editorial Board welcomes essays from any chronological period or language area that examine the art, practice, and discipline of translation. Ideally, essays will break new ground by analyzing particular translations and drawing general conclusions accessible and of interest to the broad PMLA readership. We seek essays that will address a wide range of questions and issues from varied viewpoints and using diverse methodologies. Essays might consider questions such as the following: What implications do translations have for literary history? What are the consequences for canons and curricula if we address literary “originality” as a problematic norm? How have the ethics of translation changed? How does translation function across media, between, for example, books and films, and what are the ramifications of intersemiotic processes? How might we better acknowledge and understand translation as a cultural force?

In a different vein, contributors may wish to explore the reception of translations or the reading or even teaching practices that working with a text in translation entails. How do we account for the historical specificity of a particular translation? How does the translator’s own historical and linguistic context affect the original text? And how do we understand “untranslatability” or incommensurability across historical periods or cultures?

Scholarly approaches and disciplines such as cognitive science, memory studies, disability studies, gender studies, and the digital humanities, among others, could also be used fruitfully to examine translation in innovative ways. Scholars may wish to interrogate current hegemonies of language and the cultural power dynamics inherent in translation.  

Such lines of inquiry are intended as suggestions, not restrictions: methodologies, language areas, periods, and topics are open. Essays engaging non-European languages are especially welcome.


Suggestions for future topics are always welcome. Proposals for special topics should describe the focus and goals of the envisioned special topic and be submitted by an MLA member (or members) willing to coordinate the special topic. Because the special topic is largely shaped by essays that are submitted for peer review, proposals should not list potential contributors. Proposals are considered by the Editorial Board, which meets three times a year; successful proposals will put forth topics that appeal to a wide range of authors and readers. Please send proposals to 

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 submit the following materials through PMLA's ScholarOne site1) 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 and submitted as a Word file, 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 (as a Word file); 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 submit the following material through PMLA's ScholarOne site: 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 and submitted as a Word file, 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 (submitted as a Word file); otherwise the Editorial Board will select a translator of accepted non-English material. The Editorial Board will approve or decline the proposals.

Special Features

Each fall, the PMLA Editorial Board welcomes proposals for clusters of essays on a topic of wide interest, to appear in the following special features: Theories and Methodologies, which addresses a timely issue or recent work of scholarship, and The Changing Profession, which takes up new and emerging fields in the humanities.

Deadline: 15 October 2021


Special features are intended for MLA members to have a voice in shaping the editorial direction of the journal. Each special feature is proposed by one or more coordinators and is typically composed of six to ten essays, including an introduction by the coordinator(s). From time to time, the editor of the journal may also solicit proposals for special features, which undergo the same review process as do those submitted by the membership.

The board encourages proposals that represent a variety of viewpoints and that seek to bring timely, emerging issues, areas of study, and works to the attention of the journal’s readership; to put scholars in dialogue with one another; and to expand the scope of the fields represented in the journal.


Every proposal (including those invited for submission) will receive careful review by the editor and editorial board and will have one of three outcomes: accept, decline, or revise and resubmit. In all cases, the board will provide feedback on the proposal. For proposals that are accepted or invited to be revised and resubmitted, a proposal editor will be appointed to work closely with coordinators and contributors to develop the special feature. Proposal editors will be selected from among the editorial board or advisory committee, when possible.


Proposals should include three items: a detailed description of the cluster and a rationale for the contributors included (2–3 pages); a list of contributors’ names, affiliations, and preliminary paper titles; and abstracts of their proposed contributions (not to exceed 100 words). Successful proposals will articulate how each contribution advances the overall goals of the proposed cluster and will make a compelling case for the coherence and timeliness of the collection as a whole.

Contributions should be new and unpublished and not exceed 3,500 words, including discursive endnotes but not translations or the list of works cited.

Contributors will need to be (or become) MLA members upon acceptance, unless they work outside academia or in disciplines outside MLA fields, in which case a membership waiver will be requested. 


Proposals should be sent to by the deadline noted above, for review by the editorial board at its meeting in November.

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