How should I style the name of an artwork with an ascribed title?
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.
Many works of art, especially older ones, were not given formal titles by their creators or were given one that is no longer known and thus have an ascribed title—that is, a title assigned by others, often scholars or curators.
How you style an ascribed title for a work depends on the period in which the work was created. Ascribed titles of ancient works of art are conventionally styled roman, as shown in the following example, from Tobin Siebers’s “Disability Aesthetics”:
Would the Venus de Milo still be considered one of the great examples of aesthetic and human beauty if she had both her arms? (543)
Ascribed titles of works of art from other periods are styled in italics.
Siebers, Tobin. “Disability Aesthetics.” PMLA, vol. 120, no. 2, Mar. 2005, pp. 542–46.