An Open Letter to MLA

Dear MLA formatting,


It is approximately 1 AM on the Sunday night before my first draft of the psychoanalytic essay needs to be completed and ready to go for a peer review. I have just finished writing the essay, complete with proper MLA citations and a Works Cited page, and in my insane state of sleep deprivation am left haunted by the pervading question: “What is MLA?”

Ever since I started writing proper papers in grade school my teachers have required MLA formatting and citations. However, never has anyone ever explained to me why we need MLA other than the fact that it is plagiarism if you don’t cite your work. But, why do we use MLA specifically? It is so detailed and specific, when it doesn’t even really need to be. After all, as long as I cite my source why do I need so much extra information in an “acceptable” and “proper” format? The whole thing just seems so unnecessary and tedious.

In fact, I am not entirely convinced that many people even know how to cite a source properly in MLA without the aid of plugging in the information about that source into an online citation generator. What does each part of the citation mean? How does one know how to properly construct an MLA citation? And if MLA is so arbitrary that none of my teachers have ever done more to teach me about how to do it than refer me to that ridiculous Purdue Owl website, then why do we bother to use it?

Not only this, but many other deep questions persist such as: “Who are the higher powers that created and decide upon what is considered MLA formatting?” And why does it constantly change–after all, how can anyone know what the correct way to do something is if there is never one set standard? Does that mean we were all doing it wrong before? Seriously, the whole thing seems a little mysterious and contradictory.



Alexa Paleka


P.S. Nobody really reads the MLA handbook, but thanks for trying.


To see my Psychoanalytic Essay Process Portfolio, click here.


Jungian Reading? Challenge Accepted.

I have now finished reading through the sample essays, my notes of the text, and my notes on the various approaches to psychoanalytic theory and their principles. I am currently working on filling in my outline with specific thoughts, quotes, and ideas. However, I seemed to have surprised myself in the process since my last post!

Although I was originally planning on doing a Lacanian reading for my essay, I suddenly decided to challenge myself and do a Jungian analysis of The Awakening instead.

My reasoning for doing so is that I realized I feel as though a Lacanian reading may be a bit inappropriate in capturing  the essence of the text (ironic, huh?), because although Edna seems to be going through the Mirror Stage in realizing that she is a multidimensional person as an independent woman, the story is more about her quest to discover herself through Jungian principles. As I was reading, my interpretation of the text aligned more with Jung’s principles, which I believe will also give a deeper and more original style of analysis. I also feel like it will be an interesting interpretation, and be more engaging since I’m assuming most other students will chose to stay with a Freudian or Lacanian reading. Why not go outside the box?

My next step before writing is to re-sort through my notes and determine what information is valuable in terms of my new approach. I will finish my outline, then begin writing! I’m excited to see how this goes!


To see my Psychoanalytic Essay Process Portfolio, click here.


So… What’s a psychoanalytic paper???

After my big debacle last time with writing a paper for this class, I made sure to plan out and use my time much more wisely so that I would have enough time to safely get this paper done without stressing out. Now, sitting down at my computer ready to write, I am realizing something important: I still don’t know what a psychoanalytic paper is or how to write it!

I have spent at least the last week preparing for this essay in a variety of ways to help me once I got to the writing stage. First, I began by doing the suggested readings, starting with reading the psychoanalytic theory chapter in the textbook and taking notes on the different principles of each psychoanalytic approach. I then read the Psychoanalytic Criticism in Turn of the Screw by Greg. W. Zacharias to give myself a background on what a psychoanalytic essay is like. I also read through all of the example essays that the professor posted to give myself an even more in-depth look at how to write a psychoanalytic paper.

Taking notes and having discussion in class supplemented my knowledge base and understanding of the different approaches to psychoanalytic theory a bit more, however I already had most of the notes from the textbook and knew much of the Freudian theory from my rigorous AP Psychology class in high school (which was still very fresh in my head since, after all, I was just taking that class a semester ago in addition to the fact that it was my favorite class).

Next, I decided to do some background research on the author and was very surprised to learn that Kate Chopin’s life bears many non-coincidental similarities to her character, Edna, in The Awakening. This leads me to believe that the characterization of Edna and supporting characters, the setting, events, and other details are based very heavily upon her own life. Therefore, much of the feminist thought expressed throughout the novel by the character is a reflection of her own feelings and ideas based on her own personal experiences.

Finally, I finished reading The Awakening, taking notes and marking important passages and quotations that may help me with my paper. It was very interesting to read the book from a psychoanalytic perspective, whereas I read the first quarter of the book from a close reading perspective and with new knowledge of psychoanalytic theory was able to pull an entirely different meaning and analysis from the text in the final portion. 

From here, I plan to look over the sample essays once more and begin developing a plan or outline for my essay. I will also write the abstract and keyword search for the supplementary reading from Turn of the Screw. Here goes nothing!


To see my Psychoanalytic Essay Process Portfolio, click here.