The decennial ACLA Report on the State of the Discipline appears here for the first time in digital form. It follows the printed reports from 1965 and 1975, both written, on behalf of a committee, by single authors (Harry Levin and Thomas Greene, respectively), as well as edited volumes featuring responses, written by a variety of scholars from the field, to more-or-less definitive reports written by Charles Bernheimer (published as Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism, 1994) and Haun Saussy (published as Comparative Literature in the Age of Globalization, 2006).
This Report differs from those reports in several ways. It is, and this is not nothing, the first report to not include a single programmatic statement on the discipline of Comparative Literature. It is also the first report not to be edited by a Full Professor from an Ivy League institution; rather its Editorial Team, headed by Ursula Heise (UCLA), includes faculty from a number of public and private institutions, including one from an institution outside the United States. It is the first report to include content in a number of formats: abandoning the form taken by the previous two reports, that of the traditional, 25-30-page academic essay, it includes content in five different areas and four different genres (as well as two media, text and video), ranging from the short pieces on "Ideas of the Decade" to the longest essays on new "Paradigms" in the field. And it is also, finally, the first report to have an open call for contributions and a peer review system, allowing any ACLA member at any rank or from any institution (or indeed our members who live and work outside institutional or university frames) to participate in its production.
Whether these differences make a difference -- whether, that is, the choices that the ACLA has made this time around, whether the articulation of those choices by the Editorial Team, matter in some way more than the nominal -- whether they fulfill at the formal level the impulses towards openness, the willingness to be surprised, and the capacity to engage in the most interesting intersections of the new and the already-known that characterize the discipline at its best: these are, of course, for the Report's readers, and listeners, to decide.