Founded in 1973, MELUS endeavors to expand the definition of new, more broadly conceived US literature through the study and teaching of Latino, Native American, African American, Asian and Pacific American, and ethnically specific Euro-American literary works, their authors, and their cultural contexts.

MELUS has contributed widely to American literary studies by presenting sessions in the conventions of such scholarly organizations as the Modern Language Association and its Regionals, USACLALS, College English Association, National Women’s Studies Association, American Studies Association, American Literature Association, and Popular Culture Association. Theoretical papers at MELUS sessions and in the MELUS Journal point to a new, more broadly conceived American literature. Building a community of writers and scholars of American ethnic literatures, MELUS has held, since 1987, its own national conferences annually every spring at various sites across the United States.