August 1, 2007
In one small step for literature on the web, the MLA International Bibliography has decided to index scholarly web sites including thematic research collections, electronic archives, portals, language maps, research tools, teaching tools, blogs, discussion list archives, and video presentations. It’s great to see the MLA begin to acknowledge that much of the conversation and practice of literary studies now takes place on the web. The guidelines for inclusion are however much in line with peer-review practices of print journals: each site must be examined by an indexer; relate to language and literature; identify the editor and editorial board; have a stated editorial policy; identify the publisher, sponsoring organization, or both; and provide for archiving. I’m not sure if literary sites that would clearly fall into the common practice of literature on the web, such as The Iowa Review Web, the electronic book review, or the Electronic Literature Collection would necessarily meet all of these criteria. Does the fact that ebr doesn’t have a formal editorial board, for instance, mean that it should not be indexed, in spite of the fact that it has been the home of high-quality literary discourse for more than a decade? It will be interesting to see how this project pans out. To bring web sites to the attention of the MLA for consideration in the bibliography, send an email message that includes the URL to firstname.lastname@example.org.