For a graduate student of English Literature, it is the high court of the Gods, where meer mortals like myself go to have our fates handed down to us. In other words, it's the place where job interviews for English Professors happen.
Unfortunately, I was not myself there for interviews. Last year, I somehow managed to get myself elected to a regional delegate position within the organization's government. So when asked, I had to tell people I was there on "assembly business," the importance of which was greatly exaggerated by the special ribbon I wore displaying the word DELEGATE in gold stitching.
Basically, my job was to attend a six hour long parliamentary session, complete with Robert's Rules of Orders, where we discussed professional issues and voted on the official opinions of the MLA, also known as "resolutions."
One thing I can say with confidence about MLA is that it's massive. Before arriving, I was sent a map with a layout of the conference and places where guests would be staying. Group discounts for the conference were secured at eleven hotels, spanning the entire financial and jewelry districts of downtown LA. The proceedings of the conference itself took place in the combined meeting rooms of the Marriott and the Los Angeles Convention Center, both of which are enormous. I believe that the head count for the conference as a whole was around 8,000. So many professors.
Despite the horrors of MLA--the dramatic intensity of careers in the balance, the sense of being a small fish in an oceanic pond, the underdressed, the overdressed--I did enjoy the small world vibe. Every time I turned a street corner, I would run into someone I hadn't seen in years. It was like a city in a dream, completely filled with familiar faces. Thank god there is something to look forward to next year, and the year after, since this delegate position is a three year term.