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.
P.S. Nobody really reads the MLA handbook, but thanks for trying.
To see my Psychoanalytic Essay Process Portfolio, click here.