Issue For July 8, 2009
MLA 2009 Updates are on the OWL
In Summer 2008, the Modern Language Association (MLA) released its third edition of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, which publicly unveiled modifications to MLA Style for the upcoming year.
In April 2009, MLA released the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition). The OWL now features an overview of the new MLA guidelines here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/15/. General paper formatting (margins, headings, etc.) and in-text citations remain the same, but all Works Cited style entries are different from the 6th edition guidelines.
The OWL's new MLA 2009 guideline resources are also now live at this url: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/. The OWL also features MLA sample papers in PDF here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/13/.
For instructors and teachers not yet using the new MLA rules, we will maintain the old MLA guidelines here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/. Please be aware, however, that we will be removing the old MLA rules after the fall semester 2009.
On Creative Writing in the Twenty-First Century by Kenny Tanemura
When I attended the MLA conference in San Francisco over winter break, I was surprised to see panels about creative writing. I’d attended the MLA conference when it was in San Francisco a decade ago, and there were no such panels. The MLA was suddenly interested in bridging the gap between the MFA and the Literature and Rhetoric-Composition programs.
I recall one session called “Creative Writing in the Twenty-First Century.” Tim Mayers and Anna M. Leahy, who received their MFAs and then went on to get their PhDs, talked about some ways the gap can be bridged. Mayer suggested that creative writers could “do theory” in publications like the Writer’s Chronicle, published by The Association of Writers & Writing Programs. Kelly Allison Ritter, who presided, said that the MFA didn’t prepare her for an academic career, whereas the PhD did.
The MFA would benefit from being more integrated in the English department, as more preparation for an academic career is available outside of the MFA. The English department would benefit as well, since writers put theory into practice and, ideally, provide material for literary scholars to interpret on a critical level.
If both parties would benefit from higher integration, then why hasn’t it happened? Paul Dawson, in his book Creative Writing and the New Humanities, quotes Malcolm Bradbury as saying that Creative Writing is “today’s Paris of the 20s.” Dawson says that Creative Writing is criticized in these terms when the “garret” of Creative Writing is perceived to be too close to the “ivory tower” of Literary Studies. Yet Dawson also notes “What enabled the workshop to develop, however, was its ability to operate as an academic site for the deployment of criticism in a campaign to reform literary studies.” Dawson also argues that the “practice of critical reading” led to the “pedagogical development of the workshop.”
Yet we’ve reached a point where creative writers no longer read Homer, Socrates or even William Burroughs, and literary scholars, similarly, choose not to enter the conversation of creative writing. Perhaps scholars, who are writing dissertations about literature, can comment about how the texts they are dealing with have spawned new writing; or they can say something about how these texts can generate new texts, i.e. what makes them contemporary? Can these texts be useful in the workshop, and how? Do these texts deserve only to be shelved in the dustbin of history, or analyzed obscurely--doesn’t literature fulfill a larger, perhaps more public need? Literary scholars have a great deal to offer to Creative Writing. Similarly, creative writing is often the literary expression of theory, and theory decreases in relevance without an evaluation of new texts.
Hopefully creative writers can start to develop a pedagogy. As Anna Leahy says in Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom, creative writers “have not studied, documented, and analyzed their teaching. The danger for the larger field, then, is the presumption that writers can learn to be good teachers merely through their participation in workshops as students.” And a change in perspective would help, too. Tim Mayers notes, in (Re) Writing Craft: Composition, Creative Writing, and the Future of English Studies, that some literary scholars take a “dismissive” and “contemptuous attitude” towards creative writing, as if creative writing isn’t a legitimate field of study. If we as writers and scholars recover from the amnesia that has led to this division, then we may remember why, in the not too distant past, creative writing was synonymous with literary studies.
While Kenny was developing the Poetry in Writing Courses material for the OWL (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/745/01/), we began discussing the gulfs that sometimes exist between MFA, Literature, and Rhetoric-Composition programs within English departments. As many of you probably know, the distance between programs, and the discussions surrounding them, are not new. Our disciplines have been aware of the ideological and pedagogical differences for years; and often the differences between programs solidify, and even become thorny, when economic issues arise that impact administrative decisions.
But what struck me as interesting, and one reason I asked Kenny to write his insightful article for the Purdue OWL News, is the desire to bridge the differences between MFA, Literature, and Rhetoric-Composition programs that arose from our discussion. The desire to connect the different areas of English study also arose from our discussions with people in the Purdue English department and from discussions with scholars at conferences. During these conversations, we noticed good intentions but also perceived a lack of understanding between people in MFA, Literature, and Rhetoric-Composition programs--and we noted that this is a large part of the problem.
Kenny and I share many years of experience teaching and writing, and during our talks it became clear to both of us that a number of the arguments that separate English departments arise from misunderstanding and habits of exclusion rather than any fundamental disparities. We both agreed that raising awareness of the similarities between MFA, Literature, and Rhetoric-Composition areas could go a long way in bridging the gaps that now exist. It’s not surprising that as communicators, we agreed that more communication was necessary if we are to begin making connections and building cooperation between MFA, Literature, and Rhetoric-Composition scholars. I believe we can learn a lot from one another, and I think we all can benefit from these lessons. I’m reminded of the lessons in rhetoric we can find in Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, two works that could be studied as literature or poetry.
Since coming aboard as OWL Coordinator in the summer of 2007, I’ve tried to expand the horizons of the OWL to include various areas of study that might help bridge some of the gaps between English programs. A glance at the available OWL resources may say something about the lack of understanding between English programs and how we can use various resources to teach and learn writing and literature. Given this, I’ve tried to work with content developers from our MFA and Literature programs to expand the OWL’s material for creative writing, research scholarship, and literary studies. I hope this begins a trend that continues because in the end, we’re all working with language, and I believe that a paucity of resources in one area of study reflects a gap in our knowledge and a gap in our dialogue.
I invite your responses to Kenny’s article and my reflection as we move forward. Because we have disabled the OWL Help Nest in preparation for our OWL Help Nest Wiki, please send responses to my OWL Coordinator contact page here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/contact/owlcoordinator. Thanks for reading.
News from our in-person Writing Lab, located on Purdue University's campus in Heav. 226.
Upcoming Writing Lab Workshops
The Purdue Writing Lab in Heavilon 226 is hosting two upcoming workshops:
7-15-09 from 11:00-12:00 - Editing Workshop
7-22-09 from 11:00-12:00 - MLA and APA Workshop
We invite you to join us to learn about editing and to learn about the new MLA guidelines!
New OWL Resources Available
The OWL is pleased to announce the following new resources:
MLA 2009 Guidelines: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
Using Poetry in Writing Courses: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/745/01/
Writing Task Resource List: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/749/01/
Purdue Writing Lab Quick Tour Slide Presentation: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/748/01/
Analytical Research Projects Slide Presentation: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/750/01/
New OWL Art:http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/742/02/