University Center, Suite 301
3007 N Ben Wilson, Victoria, Texas 77901
361.570.4101 Fax: 361.580.5501
Jeffrey R. Di Leo, Ph.D.
Uppinder Mehan, Ph.D.
The SCE is North America's oldest scholarly organization devoted to theory. Its various interdisciplinary projects, conferences and symposia serve to advance the role of theory in academic and intellectual arenas. Its projects encompass a broad spectrum of disciplines, most prominently literary studies, legal studies and practices, economics, composition and pedagogy.
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; and, the relations of literature, culture, and economics. 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 the institutions of aesthetics, and globalization and the image are in their formative stages.
An extended history of the society is available as part of the Modern Language Association's (MLA) audit of Allied and Affiliate Organizations.
As the host institution for the SCE, UHV aims to both continue the traditional practices of the organization as well as to expand the organizations operations in several ways. While the MLA and its sub-organizations are important venues for theoretical critical exchange, the SCE@UHV will additionally work to organize panels at the annual conferences of the following organizations: a) one annual meeting of the American Philosophical Association (which has three divisions, Eastern, Midwestern, Western); b) one annual meeting of a major comparative literature association (which has three major divisions, Southern Comparative Literature, American Comparative Literature Association, International Comparative Literature Association); and c) one annual meeting of a major communication association (which has two major divisions, the National Communication Association and the International Communication Association). These three disciplinary organizations would serve not only to expand the range of SCE critical engagement, but also would work to bring critical discourse that circles in these differing organizations into exchange with each other.
Also, as host for the SCE, UHV plans to develop a virtual SCE community. Nodes for critical discussion of particular topics will be created that will not only allow for the posting of articles, works in progress, etc., but also for posting various multimedia critical engagements. The SCE virtual community will allow for extended discussion of topics and the development of broader-based critical projects. It will also provide a forum for participation across the globe. Ideally, SCE nodes would be set up in a number of different parts of the world such as South America (Sao Paolo), Africa (Capetown), Europe (Paris), and Asia (Hong Kong).
Both the development of an SCE virtual community and the expansion of conference venues for critical exchange will would allow for more extensive participation from sister disciplines such as philosophy, comparative literature and communications. Such multi-disciplinary engagement would strengthen the SCE by bringing complementary voices into the organization.
Finally, the SCE@UHV will set up a winter theory institute at UHV. The institute would invite prominent speakers to a one week seminar during the second week of January. Students and faculty from around the country would be invited to participate. The themes of the winter institute could be connected to the projects developed through the SCE virtual community.