Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A stupid question

If I make passing reference to a work in my article, do I include it in the Works Cited? For example,
But Gustavius Hornswoggler's grand opus Of Noseology was not the only work of his to connect illegitimate nosepicking with sodomy ---- besides his final book On the Corruption of Children, examples from his juvenalia abound, particularly his mock-epic Severus Swickenbaum, in which the eponymous hero's improper use of a handkerchief marks his first step on the road to ruin.
So if I'm really doing a reading of Noseology here and mainly want to prove that I know there are connections to his other works, do I cite these at the end of the article or no? I can't find a clear answer in the MLA guide. And what about those "for more information see..." footnotes? Do I cite the books I list in them? (I know, you're only supposed to do those in the dissertation, but really, there are some texts that aren't getting read across certain disciplinary circles and I really do want people to go off and read them.)

I guess my question is how widely or narrowly do we draw the definition of "citing"?

OK, back to the proofing and editing. PS how are you?


Patti said...

In vague cases like this, I follow my advisor's rule: when in doubt, cite. It's easier for editors to cut a text from a works cited page than to send it back to you to dig up a citation, or find it themselves.

Digger said...

I always prefer to err on the side of citing. Overciting can be trimmed and mitigated; underciting can look sloppy.

Dr. Crazy said...

While I agree that erring on the side of citing can be a good thing, if you are only mentioning the title of a work in passing, it is not necessary to cite - and to do so can look like unnecessary padding of the works cited. My general rule of thumb has been: If I'm referring to a text in a specific way (for example, to talk about a specific passage or even section) it goes in the works cited. Also, if I say that for a particular reading of so and so in a note x text, I'll put x text in the works cited because I've directly told people to go look at it. If, however, I'm just listing off works in an author's oeuvre (and even summarizing them briefly/broadly) no citation. I figure that falls under the "common knowledge" rule of citation.

Example: in the book I mention that Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, and The Waves are widely considered her exemplary "high modernist" texts. But I never talk again about TTL or TW. Thus, no need to put them in the works cited, as I don't actually cite them or even talk about them in any detail. If, however, I'd put a content note in about, say, the Time Passes section of TTL as it related to how time works in MD, I'd put TTL in the works cited, because I would have referred to something somewhat specific and pointed readers to it.

And I am frazzled, but fine. Thanks for asking :)