Should the serial comma be used before an ampersand?

Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.

Omit the serial comma when using an ampersand:

Shelley bought all the vintage Earth, Wind & Fire albums she found at the yard sale.

Ampersands belong to design typography (like book covers) and generally should be avoided in prose. When referencing titles of works in prose, most publishers will convert an ampersand found on a book cover or title page to and, adding a serial comma if needed:

Modernism, Satire & the Novel → Modernism, Satire, and the Novel