When it was founded in 1940, Modern Language Quarterly was dedicated to the philological and critical study of literature in European languages. At that time literary study often meant a quest for origins—in sources and influences, in authorial intention, in history of ideas, and in the fixing of texts.
But times change, and in 1993 the journal received a new subtitle and, with it, a new focus: MLQ: A Journal of Literary History. The journal remains dedicated to scholarship that illuminates texts of the recent and the distant past. It is devoted to those texts as the representations, agents, and vehicles of change.