Regardless of one’s profession, the skills gained from humanities study are essential—the ability to conduct effective research, to understand language, to think critically, and to communicate clearly. The Modern Language Association (MLA) provides an array of resources that support the teaching of these skills.

Teaching with the MLA International Bibliography

One of these is the MLA International Bibliography, the renowned index covering seven humanities disciplines:

  • Literature
  • Language
  • Linguistics
  • Rhetoric and Writing Studies
  • Folklore
  • Theater, Film, Television and other Dramatic Arts
  • Teaching of Language.

A key realization for students to take from their undergraduate education is that every profession has its preferred forms of communication and its “go-to” resources for keeping up with developments in that field. For the subject areas it covers, the MLA International Bibliography heads the list of these go-to resources.

Because so many students take at least one course in these subjects, the Bibliography provides a perfect opportunity for students to learn how to use a specialized library database and to become familiar with the various forms in which the scholarly conversation unfolds, skills that will serve them well in whatever field they ultimately pursue. No doubt this is one reason so many of the top schools on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021: Arts and Humanities subscribe to either the MLA International Bibliography or the MLA International Bibliography with Full Text.

To support the effective use of the bibliography in both teaching and research, the MLA has developed a suite of free teaching tools.

Online course: Understanding the MLA International Bibliography

Understanding the MLA International Bibliography is a free, interactive, self-grading and self-paced online course that issues certification in the form of online badges. In addition to helping students understand the features and advantages of specialized library databases, the 90-minute course takes them through exercises to build their search skills and to help them analyze their search results, locate full text, and understand concepts like peer review and tools like controlled vocabularies. 

Additional modules provide insights into conducting research in particular subject areas, including Literature, Folklore, Linguistics, Rhetoric and Composition, Intercultural Communication, and Dramatic Arts like Film, Theater, and Television. An instructor’s guide and suggestions for related lesson plans, discussion questions, and project-based assignments are also available.

Video Tutorials

The MLA also provides free, short tutorial videos, each covering a specific feature of the bibliography and other library databases, such as how to use a database’s thesaurus or subject search, limiting by publication date, and searching by names as subjects. Many of these are available in languages other than English.

The MLA Style Center

The MLA Style Center provides guidance about creating works-cited lists and in-text citations and regular posts about the mechanics of writing. It also publishes lesson plans aimed at helping undergraduates and high school students evaluate the reliability of research sources and incorporate those sources into their own writing with the necessary attribution. 

You can help your humanities faculty members prepare for their next semester by sharing information about these resources.  For more detailed information about these instructional resources and the relevance of the humanities in the workforce, download the white paper, “Helping Humanities Faculty Impart Skills for Today’s Workforce,“ and share it with humanities faculty members.