David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
She's Giving Me Less Citations

March 31, 2016

The Modern Language Association has released the newest version of their infamous Handbook, the humanities' bible for correct citation in academic papers.  Inside Higher Ed reported on the new version today, citing a philosophy on the part of the MLA to make citing "easier and more commonsensical."

Apparently the Handbook is much thinner, which is a start.  As you can see from the link to the IHE report, the focus is on source elements, not publication format, apparently because "publication format" is so difficult to define in a world of hyperlinks and Google. It all sounds kind of forward-thinking, until you see the example given by IHE that basically reduces a reference by 11 whole spaces or characters, barely 8% of the whole reference.  IHE cites a high-ranking MLA official who decries previous models of MLA citation: "the process of developing and disseminating all of these citation formats runs the risk of creating a map that is larger and more complex than the terrain through which it attempts to guide writers and readers."  Quite a mouthful.  They clearly didn't use Google Maps in analyzing this rhetorical map.

While the MLA is commenting with such florid sentences as above, our public discourse is moving a different direction.  Ultimately, the MLA needs to more aggressively adapt this new approach to citation as a forerunner of a world under Emperor Trump.  The MLA Handbook when his highness takes office is going to be really thin and so simple:

As a, theoretical member of MLA, with degrees in English, I guess I am bemoaning here more the ticky-tack way academics want to adapt to the changing social world.  In a world where deep, articulated conversation is not only not valued, but practically non-existent, we continue to believe we can strengthen the bulwarks against such raging illiteracy by upholding the essence of an education system that is under attack from the very people who, probably rightly, believe we are so antiquated.

It's only a matter of time until the Modern Language Association is bought out by the Moron Language Association.  There will be no need to to cite statements that never get finished.  Believe Me.