Sunday, April 01, 2012


In a random fit of public service, I present, for the edification of whoever stumbles by, the basic formats for titles of academic publications in the humanities. If you are looking to start, or advance, a career in academia, you would be well advised to adopt one of the following for each and every paper, article, chapter, or book title.

As is well established by this late date, the humanities is our culture's last, best bastion of the defense - nay, the celebration - of diversity. The diversity of your opinion is sure to be well-received and given a fair and honest hearing, provided you adhere strictly to the exceptionless, unavowed, unwritten rules. To help you along, here are the officially accepted title types.

Word, Word, Word

This looks especially good in Times New Roman centered on the 10th line of a cover page. Do not get cute and put this title in a larger font. 12pt TNR has passed the test of time. Besides, no use calling undue attention to yourself. You'll only make yourself look uppity.

Word and Word

Also good, and also translates well to Palatino Linotype.

Adjective Noun

(See also: Adjectival Phrase Noun)

Most commonly used as for books, this title format juxtaposes two different parts of speech for added interest. Handy for incongruous or non-sequitir titles that drive sales up. (Who wouldn't buy a copy of Lithe Feminism? Or Reconstituted Community?)

These title types have spread through academia, predominantly in the US, by way of the insidious influence of so-called Continental philosophy on lit crit and other quasi-disciplines.

Pithy Non-self-explanatory Phrase:
Lengthy, Verbose Explanatory Phrase that Entirely Defeats the Aesthetic Elegance Effects of the Pithy Non-self-explanatory Phrase, or that Even Conflicts with the Basic Thrust of the Preceding Phrase, Such that the Pithiness of the First Phrase is Revealed as a Failed Attempt at Hipness

This tremendously successful title type is particularly prized in cultural studies. A remarkable feature of this title format is that the catchy first phrase need not relate intelligibly to the content of the text. It could probably be chosen entirely at random, so long as it makes it seem like you're going to say something provocative or amusing. You don't actually have to be able to do either! And the long subtitle gives you the opportunity to say what the content really is, or to make an assertion that you will not defend in the text.

1 comment:

Bobo the Wandering Pallbearer said...

That's it! I've got it!

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