Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Humanities Studies: MLA Documentation


In writing about humanities, especially literature (and film), we tend to use present tense to convey the ongoing life of the work: e.g., Gregor wakes up metamorphosed into a bug; clocks droop in Dali’s masterpiece; the faun encounters a bevy of nymphs. Inside your discussion, offer parenthetical citations (just author and page) not only for direct quotations, but also for summarized and paraphrased material from sources: e.g., the cultural break at the end of the 1960s may register most prominently in the field of music (Potter 385). Note proper punctuation in citing (no comma, no pg., no pgs, nothing but a space between author and page!): e.g., Seamus Heaney’s poetic “world melts a little, though he never really leaves the earth behind, and subjects it to sharp scrutiny relieved by playfulness” (Ellmann 787). Interested readers can easily retrieve full bibliographic information by referring to your alphabetized list of works at the end of the paper or somewhere on the web site.

When quoting four or more lines from a source, normally you should use block quotation:

Other painters, notably Van Gogh and Kandinsky, distorted objects to project them in terms of their own subjective, emotional responses rather than as independent entities separable from personal experience. In Kandinsky this led to the creation of abstract, “non-representational” paintings, abjuring all pretence of intersubjective, external reality. The only subject matter was an interior truth, uniquely communicated by the personal vision of the artist. (Morgan 4)In your manuscript, indent block quotations twice — they are distinct from normal paragraph indentations. Also note the manner of citing the source here.

The following list shows correct format for books, articles, television shows, films, primary sources contained inside edited works, web sites, CDs, and mostly actual resources for various types of humanities research.

Works Cited

Bartók, Béla. Concerto for Orchestra. Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Cond. Pierre Boulez. Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, 1993.

Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings. NY: New Directions Pub. Co., 1962.

Campbell, Joseph, and Bill Moyers. The Power of Myth. NY: Doubleday, 1988.

Camus, Albert. The Plague. 1947. NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1965.

Colette, Sidonie-Gabrielle. Chéri and The Last of Chéri. 1920, 1926. NY: Penguin Books, 1954.

Delahoyde, Michael. “20th-Century Music.” 20th-Century Arts and Humanities.https://michaeldelahoyde.org/modern-humanities/music (18 January 2004).

Ellmann, Richard and Robert O’Clair. Modern Poems: A Norton Introduction. 2nd ed. NY: W.W. Norton and Co., 1989.

Freud, Sigmund. “On Dreams.” Art in Theory 1900-1990. Ed. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Cambridge: Blackwell Pub., Inc., 1993. 26-34.

“Guernica: Testimony of War.” Treasures of the World. Stoner Productions Inc. http://www.pbs.org/treasuresoftheworld/a_nav/guernica_nav/main_guerfrm (19 December 2003).

Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. 1916. NY: Bantam Classics, 1972.

—. The Trial. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir. NY: Knopf, 1957.

Koski, Lorna. “Shock Value.” W Magazine October 2003: 122-124.

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance. Dir. Godfrey Reggio. Island Alive / New Cinema, 1983.

Magritte, René. The Treachery of Images. 1928-29. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.

Metropolis. Dir. Fritz Lang. UFA, 1927.

Morgan, Robert P., ed. Music and Society: Modern Times. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1993.

Mortimer, Raymond. Introduction. 1950. Chéri and The Last of Chéri. By Colette. NY: Penguin Books, 1954. 7-11.

Nijinsky, Vaslav, choreographer. L’Après-midi d’un Faune. Comp. Claude Debussy. Perf. The Paris Opera Ballet. Paris Dances Diaghilev. Elektra Nonesuch Dance Collection, 1990.

Pollack, Jackson. Blue Poles. 1952. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Potter, Keith. “The Current Musical Scene.” Music and Society: Modern Times. Ed. Robert P. Morgan. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1993. 349-387.

Riley, Terry. In C. CBS, 1968.

Robbe-Grillet, Alain. Jealousy. 1959. NY: Grove Press, Inc., 1987.

Salzman, Eric. Twentieth-Century Music: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1974.

Sartre, Jean Paul. No Exit and Three Other Plays. 1944. NY: Vintage Books, 1989.

Thurman, Judith. “Mother of Invention.” The New Yorker October 27, 2003: 58-63.

Tzara, Tristan. “Dada Manifesto 1918.” Art in Theory 1900-1990. Ed. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Cambridge: Blackwell Pub., Inc., 1993. 248-253.

Varèse, Edgard. “Ionisation.” Edgard Varèse: The Complete Works. Perf. Asko Enemble. The Decca Record Co., Ltd., 1998.

“Yes … but Is It Art?” Narr. Morley Safer. Sixty Minutes. CBS. KREM, Spokane. 19 Sept. 1993.