Aiding the Scholarly Journey: The Latest MLA Handbook

Sponsored by Modern Language Association

Recorded on 05/05/2021
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 190

MLA Handbook 9th Edition book cover

Paula Krebs, Executive Director of MLA, doesn’t want the MLA Handbook “to be simply a reference work that sits on the shelf.” Instead, the latest edition has roughly 300 more pages than the previous, revealing the fluid, human mechanics behind our authoritative sources. In fact, Paula explains that many of these additions—visuals aids, online citation guides, inclusive language instruction—were made in response to user feedback. “People feel like they own this product … They want it to work for their students and themselves, and they want it to be a live object.”

In this first episode, Paula reveals how MLA listens and communicates with faculty, students, and its own committees, executive councils, and governance groups on editorial decisions. Paula also discusses why MLA wants its handbook to act not as a citation generator, but as a valuable aid for scholars on their academic journey. “We want it to be a tool for them to engage in scholarly conversation, and to understand how to credit the rest of that conversation.”

About the guest:

Paula M. Krebs
Executive Director
Modern Language Association

Paula M. Krebs became executive director of the Modern Language Association in August 2017. She administers the programs, governance, and business affairs of the association and is general editor of the association’s publishing and research programs, as well as editor of two association publications. She serves as an ex officio member of all committees and commissions of the association, chairs the committee that oversees the planning of the association’s annual convention, works with the MLA’s trustees in evaluating and implementing investments of the MLA’s endowment funds, and chairs the staff Finance Committee.

Krebs previously served as the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University, where she worked closely with the college’s faculty members on strategic planning and increased connections between the campus and the community. She organized a regional consortium of employers, public humanities representatives, and higher education leaders to develop strategies for defining and measuring the postgraduation success of humanities majors. Before arriving at Bridgewater State, she was special assistant to the president for external relations at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow in the president’s office of the University of Massachusetts, and a professor and department chair at Wheaton. She has also been a regular contributor to higher education publications, including the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog Vitae.

A member of the MLA Executive Council from 2013 to January 2017, Krebs also served on the executive committee of the MLA’s Association of Departments of English (2003–05). She served on the Massachusetts ACE Women’s Network Board of Directors and was a member of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Board of Directors from 2009 to 2015.

Krebs earned a PhD in English from Indiana University, where she specialized in Victorian literature and culture, and a BA from La Salle College (now La Salle University).

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